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Boykins v. State Brings up Major Fourth Amendment Issue in Santa Ana Drug Cases

December 16, 2011
By The Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera, Jr. on December 16, 2011 12:52 PM |

A recent Georgia case brings to light issues that must be applied to Santa Ana drug cases as well.

Whether drug possession or drug sales in Orange County, these charges can be enhanced based on a multitude of factors. For one, the criminal history of the defendant can play a role in what charges the state brings against a suspect. If there have been many or serious convictions for drug sales in the past, it's possible the charges will be shifted to federal court, where the penalties are often tougher.
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If guns are used or found during a police search, if children are nearby and factors such as the type of drug and quantity are all things that go into determining what charges a person could face. All charges related to drugs are serious.

But because of the government's decades-long ongoing "War on Drugs," more and more law enforcement resources are going into undercover operations, sting operations and overall enforcement of drug laws.

The zeal of officers to make arrests can sometimes cause problems and it happened in Boykins v. State. In this case, a man pulled his vehicle up to a woman in a high-crime area and police observed the act. When officers pulled up, the man drove off.

Officers asked the woman if she knew the man and she said no and they suspected prostitution. They followed the man to a nearby apartment complex and pulled behind him. When asked for identification, the man said it was in his apartment, but he gave them his name and date of birth.

Officers found he had an outstanding warrant, handcuffed him and put him in custody. An officer then searched his car, finding cocaine in the center console. Before trial, his lawyers sought to suppress evidence from the officer searching the vehicle.

The only evidence presented by the state was the testimony of the arresting officer, who said that the driver exited the vehicle when he was being questioned about his identification. All before the search, the man was arrested, handcuffed and put in the other vehicle.

Previous court decisions have allowed police officers to search vehicles if they believe the suspect is close enough to reach in and pull something out. But it is limited. The Georgia Supreme Court overturned the case, ruling that the state failed to show why this should be an example of when a "rare" case where a warrantless search should be allowed.

This is an example of the criminal justice system upholding a defendant's rights. Police have rules and the court is a checks and balance system for law enforcement. When they break the rules, and a defendant's rights are violated, there are consequences. Police have problems in cases every day. Allow a Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer to uphold your rights if you are charged with a crime.

If you are facing drug charges in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera Jr. to discuss your options. With three decades of experience, Attorney LaBarbera has argued more than 200 criminal trials and appeals. Call (714) 541-9668 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Aleman v. Village of Hanover Park Shows Careless Police Work Can Ruin Lives: December 9, 2011

In State v. Allen, Santa Ana Murder Charges Collapse on Judge's Misconduct: November 20, 2011