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Man facing drug charges after traffic stop on I-77

Police recently arrested a 45-year-old man following a traffic stop for allegedly speeding along Interstate 77 in Iredell County, North Carolina. After stopping the man's vehicle, deputies with the Iredell County Sheriff's Office claim to have found nearly $67,000 worth of illegal narcotics inside the man's car. A local news report did not indicate what probable cause the police had for searching the man's vehicle, nor was it said whether the man gave consent to the search. Nevertheless, he has been charged with drug trafficking, and police are holding him in the Iredell County Jail.

The police report claims officers found 440 grams of cocaine and 184 grams of marijuana inside the man's Chrysler van. Readers in Charlotte and elsewhere should keep in mind that, in an effort to support conviction, police reports often list the supposed street value of seized drug evidence. In this case, the cocaine was said to have been valued at $66,000, while the marijuana was reportedly worth $920. How police arrived at these values was not made clear. Authorities subsequently charged the man with trafficking cocaine by possession and transportation, and with felony possession of marijuana. If convicted, he could face a substantial prison sentence.

The North Carolina legal system ensures that all suspects are presumed innocent unless or until proven otherwise in court. The burden of proof is on the prosecutor, not on the defendant, and if it can be shown that an arrest or search and seizure was poorly conducted, then the charges against a defendant can be reduced or even dismissed. In the case of the 45-year-old now facing drug charges in Iredell County, questions may well exist about the legality of the search. The law only allows police to search a vehicle after a traffic stop under certain circumstances, and if police fail to follow the correct procedure, a court could rule the search illegal regardless of what the police claim to have discovered. In addition, it could also be the case that the drugs did not belong to the man in question.

As he fights the charges against him, the accused man will need to put forth a strategic and robust defense. The state often aggressively prosecutes drug crimes, so the presentation of a meaningful defense will be necessary to protect the rights of the accused.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "Sheriff: $67k in drugs found in speeding van," Meghan Cooke, Feb. 10, 2012

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