Traffic stops account for a significant percentage of the drug crimes charged each year in Louisiana. There are specific constitutional restraints, however, that police must meet regarding drug charges arising out of a traffic stop. The first consideration is that the police may not stop a vehicle without a reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed and/or that a traffic offense is occurring.
Unarmed suspects in Louisiana and nationwide have been shot by police, sometimes fatally, in a pattern of similar controversial incidents in recent years. The cloak of suspicion has been cast on police behavior because the suspect is usually unarmed, leaving few if any legitimate reasons to justify police use of deadly force. A twist on those facts occurred on Oct. 6 in Houma when the suspect allegedly weaponized his car in trying to run down and kill a sheriff's deputy, according to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office. The incident ultimately resulted in the suspect's arrest for several offenses, including attempted murder, property destruction and drug charges for possession of crystal meth.
The Louisiana State Police announced an undercover operation called "Operation Summer School" that began on June 20 and ended on Aug. 27. The primary mission of this operation was to detect and combat criminal violence in areas of New Orleans that have been experiencing an increase in violence, the police say. The result, according to the State Police, was 207 non-drug charges and 107 drug charges made on 136 arrests.
Curious police procedures in Louisiana and other states are sometimes successful, but on occasion they may allow the accused a chance to interdict a viable defense. The procedures used by the police in arresting a 43-year-old female teacher recently for drug charges, including distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, may be suspect. Only time will tell whether the police made any significant mistakes.
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.
Louisiana law enforcement agencies are cracking down on street gang activities. In addition to recent arrests by State Police of seven accused gang members on drug charges, the offenses alleged include a new twist. The suspects are accused of engaging in reckless ATV "Ride Outs" that have allegedly caused fatal crashes and hundreds of other dangerous traffic situations.
Under the Louisiana Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution the right of privacy is established for all persons. The right of privacy often comes up in cases involving drug charges. This usually concerns a search and seizure and the propriety of the police actions under constitutional principles that guarantee privacy rights.
Coroners' offices work daily to investigate the causes of death, whether people have died from natural causes, disease or even acts of violence. While coroners often visit the locations where the deaths occur, the victims are usually transported back to their facilities by drivers. These drivers likely see the police routinely in the course of their jobs as officers investigate various deaths. However, one driver for a Louisiana coroner's office recently encountered members of law enforcement in a different capacity when he was arrested on drug charges.
Louisiana law enforcement agencies frequently join forces to crack down on drug activity within the state. Agencies from the local, state and federal levels often work together to reduce the number of drug crimes in the communities. Recently, multiple organizations participated in the arrest of 12 individuals after raids were made on various locations.
There are many different drug crimes in the state of Louisiana, with the penalties varying in severity. Someone may be charged with possession of marijuana or another controlled substance. More serious drug charges include intent to sell or trafficking. A man recently pleaded guilty on several charges for his alleged role in a multi-state operation.