According to the Flint Journal, Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell has recently announced a controversial new plan to deter drug usage. Pickell’s plan includes setting up signs that warn drivers of a “sheriff’s narcotic checkpoint.” However, in Indianapolis v. Edmund, the Supreme Court ruled that drug roadblocks are unconstitutional.
If you have been stopped at a drug checkpoint or are facing drug charges based on evidence from a police search, it is important to contact an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney. Rules concerning the conditions under which you may be searched and what constitutes an invasion of privacy are very specific. If police fail to follow proper procedures it is possible to challenge the search, often leading to charges being reduced or even dropped.
In Edmund, the City of Indianapolis used drug roadblocks to examine motorists for signs of drug usage, including the use of drug sniffing dogs. After review, the Court determined that the random drug searches at highway checkpoints were a violation of Americans’ right to privacy. In a 6-3 decision, the Court determined that the police use of roadblocks and random stop in an effort to stop the flow of illegal drugs through Indianapolis was unconstitutional because it violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizures.
The Court further determined that the severity of a drug problem in some city neighborhoods did not justify the searches, leading to far more innocent motorists being stopped than criminals.
Despite the clear ruling that such drug checkpoints are unconstitutional, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department has been using checkpoint warnings for the last few weeks. According to reports although the Undersheriff would not provide specific details about the plan, he asserts, “what is being done is within the law.”
A spokesperson from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) disagrees, noting that they are deeply troubled with the tactic, stating that they believe the Genesee’s County Sheriff’s Department was taking “a backdoor approach to violating people’s rights.” “Police need probable cause to search a vehicle for drugs and ‘turning away’ from a reported checkpoint ‘doesn’t give police the probable cause.”
Michigan drug charges are very serious, and even a conviction for misdemeanor drug possession can create lasting issues if it goes on your record. Convictions may lead to difficulty obtaining employment and housing, as well as other negative consequences. If you are under investigation for any drug crime, it’s imperative to speak with a Michigan drug defense law firm to protect your rights and keep you out of jail. Here, Genesee County is taking aggressive, possibly even unconstitutional measures to catch individuals who may or may not be in the possession of drugs. In any situation, it is important to fight back to protect your constitutional rights.
The Michigan criminal defense law firm of Grabel & Associates has years of experience defending individuals charged with drug crimes throughout Michigan, including drug possession and drug trafficking. With a focus on constitutional rights, we are skilled at attacking a police officer’s probable cause and where possible, seek to suppress illegally obtained evidence. For more information or if you are under investigation for any Michigan drug offense, contact the dedicated Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates for an immediate consultation.