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Missouri judge, no reasonable cause in felony drug case

Everyone in the United States has certain rights that are provided by the Constitution. Unfortunately, without legal training, a person facing criminal charges may not be able to fully recognize and respond to unlawful treatment. Fortunately, two women involved in a felony drug case are no longer facing charges after a judge ruled that a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper did not have reasonable cause in the stop and search that led to their arrest.

The incident that led to the woman's arrest happened in July 2018. A state trooper claims that he stopped a 45-year-old woman because she drove over the fog line, was driving just under the speed limit and was "sitting stiffly" in the vehicle while her mouth was open. Reports indicate that the officer followed her on I-70 for approximately 35 miles before the woman stopped at a gas station. It was then that the trooper conducted a search that reportedly led to the discovery of just over 50 pounds of marijuana, methamphetamine, marijuana wax and drug paraphernalia.

In late December, a judge ruled that there was not probable cause for a stop or search in the case. The judge argued that, though the trooper claimed the reason for stopping the woman was because she crossed the fog line, crossing a fog line is not a reason to conduct a stop, especially when the vehicle crosses only momentarily. Because the trooper waited to make the stop, he could not successfully argue that he was concerned that the woman was suffering from an emergency medical condition.

Because of the judge's decision, prosecutors cannot use any evidence gained in the stop against her. As a result, the felony drug case against the driver and her 43-year-old passenger were dismissed. Unfortunately, Missouri troopers have noted that drivers who were allegedly sitting rigidly prompted a stop in several other drug cases that involved large drug busts. Fortunately, there are experienced criminal defense attorneys who can examine all of the evidence against a defendant -- including how the evidence was obtained -- and respond accordingly.

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