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Court Rules on Warrantless Search for Drugs


Many people believe that juvenile drug issues are a modern problem. However, history demonstrates that these are problems have been consistent throughout the history of the United States. One case from 1963, demonstrates that juvenile drug dealers were a problem in New York even then.

On July 19, 1963 at around 1830 hours, an off duty juvenile corrections officer was in a location to observe the corner of 14th Street and 31st Avenue in New York, Queens County. He observed a teenager around fifteen years of age at that corner. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said the teen appeared intoxicated and walked with an unsteady gait. He watched the boy for a moment and observed a second youth approach him. The second boy put a one-dollar bill on top of a mail collection box. The first boy took the bill off of the box and slipped the other boy something from his hand. The other boy turned and left. The corrections officer did not see what had been in the boy’s hand. He watched the boy turn and go into a corner market. Again, he followed behind. Once inside the store, he kept the boy under surveillance for several minutes.

After a while, he approached the boy and asked him if he could frisk down his outer clothing. The boy complied and the officer felt two pill bottles in the front right pants pocket of his clothing. That was the pocket that the boy had removed whatever he had passed to the other boy from. The boy removed two pill bottles that did not have any labels. The boy told the officer that one of the bottles contained Doriden and the other contained barbiturates. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said that Doriden was a pharmaceutical name for an opiate that was popular in the 1960’s as a mood lifter. The boy voluntarily stated at that point that he had been selling the drugs on the corner when the correctional officer saw him. The correctional officer arrested the boy and he was transported to juvenile detention.

At the time of his hearing, the lab results had not yet returned on the pills in the bottle. The attorney for the defense requested that the charges be dropped since the results that would definitively state what the pills were, would not be available to the court. The court ruled that since the boy had appeared in an intoxicated state and he had voluntarily informed the officer that he was intoxicated as a result of taking the pills, that the court could reasonably assume that the pills in the boy’s possession were drugs. However, the determination of the legitimacy of the search and arrest that recovered the drugs was not as straightforward.

The law states that a police officer may make a warrantless arrest for a misdemeanor that he observes. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said the officer is a peace officer and not a police officer. It is not his usual assignment to make observations and arrest suspects. In this case, he had frisked the boy. Since the boy had voluntarily agreed to the frisk, the frisk was allowable. If the boy had refused, the peace officers lesser standing to a police officer would have prevented the case from going any further. The drugs were secured when the boy voluntarily removed them from his pocket and gave them to the officer. His statement was also voluntary. A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said that therefore, the court determined that the search was valid because the boy cooperated voluntarily. The officer was not permitted to arrest the boy unless the crime was a felony if he was acting as a regular citizen.

The court determined that the correctional officer was within his rights to stop the boy, frisk him, recover the evidence and arrest him because the crime had occurred in his presence. Based on the boy’s own statements he is guilty of the offense.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates is a Queens Criminal Lawyer can meet you in convenient offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area. Drug Court issues are often far reaching. Our Queens Drug lawyers can provide you with advice to guide you through any situation.

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