Once the police have a reason to search your car or home, pretty much anything they find is going to be fair game. Recently in North Carolina, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept. received a call complaining of the strong smell of marijuana coming out of an apartment on the 8400 block of Riverbirch Drive, according to a police news release. The police say that they obtained a search warrant and brought drug charges after searching the property.
The police report that they've arrested three people for narcotics and several stolen firearms, one of which the FBI had reported stolen just a few weeks ago. Three of the firearms found in the apartment had been stolen. Three men, ages 18, 19, and 23 were arrested. Police inform that they seized cash, five firearms, and a small amount of marijuana and cocaine from the apartment. Two of the men were arrested for possession of stolen property and drug charges, and one of them was arrested just on the drug charges.
The first thing that defense counsel for each defendant must do is determine whether police procedures were correct, and whether they did use the proper procedure and justification for obtaining a search warrant. There are rules about possession of drugs when looking at drug offenses. Generally, a person can't be convicted just because someone else in the room or in the building may be carrying drugs. Therefore, if there were in fact drugs, counsel should determine carefully who was in possession of each drug and whether any drugs were possessed jointly.
The same goes for the firearms. If the evidence is too overwhelming on the drug charges or the weapons, and a trial is not advisable under North Carolina law, then counsel should work toward obtaining the strongest plea bargain available. In this situation, early cooperation with the police may be an option, especially where they have an interest in determining the circumstances surrounding the stolen firearms.
Source: WBTV 3 News, Police arrest 3 for drugs in south Charlotte apartment, recover stolen FBI firearm, No author, Sept. 5, 2013