In early December, two Michigan women were pulled over by troopers in Ohio at approximately 9 p.m. for marked lane violations, according to a news report at an NBC affiliate. The two women, 26-year-old Khadeja Avery and 24-year-old Ashely Johnson, were driving a 2013 Kia Sorento when they were pulled over near Lucasville in the southbound lanes of U.S. 23.
Troopers searched the vehicle after noticing a strong odor of marijuana and other criminal indicators, according to the news report. They located a duffle bag containing numerous drugs, including 270 Oxymorphone pills, half a kilo of heroin, and 4,500 Oxycodone pills.
Both women are from Hamtramck, Michigan. They were charged with possession of heroin, possession of a Schedule II substance, and drug trafficking.
While it is not legal for officers to search a vehicle in many cases, a search may be justified when law enforcement has strong indicators such as the smell of marijuana. Police must have reasonable belief that a crime is being committed, as all individuals do have a measure of protection regarding privacy in their automobiles under the U.S. Constitution. In this case, the state trooper maintains that he has just cause to search the vehicle the women were in because of the odor of burning marijuana.
It is important to note that police often ask a motorist to give permission to search a vehicle, particularly when no reasonable suspicion exists. You are not required to consent to a search of your vehicle, and in fact are advised not to unless law enforcement says that there is just cause to search your vehicle.
Drug trafficking and heroin possession are very serious drug offenses; those convicted in Michigan will face extremely harsh criminal penalties, which may include jail/prison time and substantial fines. Depending on the amount and type of illegal drug or narcotic involved, individuals may face up to life in prison, and millions of dollars in fines.
If you or someone you know has been charged with heroin, meth, or cocaine possession or drug trafficking, it is imperative to take action immediately. Consult with a highly qualified Michigan drug crime defense attorney who will work to protect your freedom and prevent harsh criminal penalties.