In a recent opinion from a Massachusetts court involving a motor vehicle stop, the defendants’ request for evidence to be suppressed was denied. The defendants were found guilty of possession with intent to distribute class A substance as well as conspiracy to violate a drug law. They appealed, arguing the police officer’s stop of their vehicle was illegal. The appellate court denied the appeal because it found that there were no legal issues with the officer’s conduct during the motor vehicle stop.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, in May 2015, a police officer in Massachusetts observed a black Jeep Cherokee speeding at approximately 80 miles per hour in a 65 miles per hour speed zone. Once the officer saw that the car was drifting in and out of its lane, he put on his blue lights and signaled for the vehicle to stop. While he was following the vehicle and waiting for the car to pull over, the officer saw the front passenger bend down completely out of sight. The vehicle did not pull over until the passenger sat back up.
The two defendants were the driver and passenger of the vehicle. The officer noticed that the defendants were shaking and avoiding eye contact, as well as that their pupils were constricted. The officer then ordered the defendants out of the vehicle. He searched the defendants and their car, finding a white substance that the defendants identified as heroin.
On appeal, the defendants argued that they were unlawfully coerced during the roadside stop, and the heroin that the officer found should not be used in court. The first issue, the defendants said, was that the officer had no reason to order the defendants out of the vehicle; therefore, all evidence obtained after the officer ordered the defendants to exit their car should be suppressed. The court disagreed, concluding that the erratic driving and the suspicious behavior by defendants was enough for the officer to “reasonably suspect” drug use and order the defendants to exit their car.
The defendants also argued that the stop was unreasonably long. Between the moment the officer pulled the vehicle over and the end of the stop, fifty minutes passed by. The court found that this period of time was not unreasonable and that given the officer’s suspicions and the defendants’ behavior, it was acceptable for the stop to last almost an hour. The defendants said they faced coercion by the officers, but the court denied any evidence of coercion, trusting the police officer’s testimony that the defendants voluntarily let him search the vehicle.
Have You Been Arrested After a Massachusetts Traffic Stop?
If you have been treated unfairly by police officers during a motor vehicle stop in Massachusetts, there are defenses you can raise in court. At the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, we will explore every possible defense in your case. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy is a dedicated, zealous advocate who will not rest until your voice has been heard. For a free and confidential consultation, call our office at 617-367-0450.