Police in New York took a 28-year-old man into custody on the afternoon of Feb. 14 after they allegedly recovered more than two pounds of marijuana during a routine traffic stop. The Putnam County resident faces a raft of charges including a felony drug possession count and several motor vehicle infractions. Initial reports indicate that the man was transported to the Rensselaer County Jail after the Town of Schodack Court set his bail at $5,000.
Police say that they pulled over the man's vehicle after observing it violate multiple traffic laws on Interstate 90 in Schodack at approximately 3:30 p.m. During the ensuing exchange, police are said to have become suspicious and searched the man's car. Police reports did not say what had led the officers involved to believe that the vehicle contained illegal drugs.
After taking the man into custody, police transported the man to Albany to be processed. Under New York state law, marijuana is considered a Schedule I substance, and possession of between 16 ounces and 10 pounds of the drug carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A custodial sentence is mandatory for repeat offenders.
Since the penalties for marijuana crimes can be severe in New York, a criminal defense attorney may scrutinize police reports carefully when representing a defendant. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unlawful search and seizure, and law enforcement may only conduct warrantless searches when they can establish probable cause or if the items recovered were in plain sight. When neither of these situations exist and no consent was obtained prior to a search, attorneys may seek to have drug charges dismissed.