Law Office of P. Zachary Stewart
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Exercising your rights

We read recently of a traffic stop a few miles southeast of Weirton in Washington, Pennsylvania. The 28-year-old driver apparently committed a traffic violation which caused police there to pull her over. As an officer spoke to her, he noticed a plastic bag sticking out of her bra.

She was taken to a nearby police station to be searched by a female officer. While waiting for the officer to arrive, the driver told police that she had marijuana and cocaine in a handbag at home. As you can see, the situation was escalating rapidly.

Officers went to the home, where they were denied entrance without a warrant. The police said they could smell marijuana coming from the house, so they obtained a search warrant. Inside, they found prescription drugs, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. They also found three firearms and $1,058 in cash.

According to a news report, the two people in the house were arrested for possession of narcotics with the intent to deliver, among other serious charges.

In similar situations, the initial suspect -- the 28-year-old -- could have asked to speak with her criminal defense attorney before revealing to police the contents of her purse. The article we read did not detail charges against her, but it seems quite possible that had she exercised first her right to remain silent and her right to speak with an attorney, she might today find herself with fewer problems with which to contend. She also appears to have included her friends or family in this legal mess.

All three defendants would do well not to discuss any of this further until they have had a chance to speak with an attorney who knows the drug laws of Pennsylvania, as well as proper search and seizure procedures. They should talk over their legal options with the criminal defense lawyer before making any more statements or decisions about the charges they face.

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Law Office of P. Zachary Stewart
3169 Main Street
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Weirton, WV 26062

Phone: 304-914-3577
Fax: 304-212-7919
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