Louisiana defense counsel must always examine the arrest papers, warrants and affidavits closely when representing a criminal defendant. When the police stop a moving vehicle and make an arrest on drug charges, the investigation by defense counsel must be detailed and thorough. It is always possible that the police have made a mistake in stopping the vehicle, or in their investigation or treatment of the suspect.
These issues are of possible concern as a result of a vehicular stop by the Louisiana State Police on Friday, July 13 on I-10 near Lake Charles. They arrested a 43-year-old man and charged him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine after allegedly finding seven kilos of cocaine in a hidden compartment in the man’s car. On the same date, federal officials executed a search warrant at the man’s residence where they allege that they seized one kilo of cocaine, six pounds of marijuana and other contraband.
The seizure at his residence in Moss Point, Mississippi, resulted in the arrest of the suspect’s 19-year-old son on charges of trafficking in a controlled substance. The police also arrested a 23-year-old man at the residence and charged him with felony possession of marijuana. It is unclear from news reports if the vehicular stop on I-10 was the result of a prior investigation that resulted in the issuance of a warrant.
The reports are unclear whether the search warrant issued at the suspect’s house was authorized only after the authorities stopped the suspect’s car and allegedly found the first batch of cocaine. The answers to these questions could be critical to whether any of the three suspects have a viable defense to the drug charges. If, for example, the stop on I-10 was not accompanied by a search or arrest warrant, the search and seizure of the vehicle may have been unconstitutional under Louisiana and federal law. That could also put into question the validity of the later search and seizure at the man’s home. These questions will be answered when criminal defense counsel investigates the circumstances of the arrests.