Being arrested for a drug offense can be a frightening experience especially if you are unsure of what to expect. With this in mind, the following is information what you should know regarding drug arrests in Atlanta including how arrests commonly take place and who typically makes these types of arrests. To learn more or discuss the specific surrounding a case, call and schedule a consultation with an Atlanta drug lawyer today.
One of the most common ways people in Atlanta are arrested for possession of drugs is as a result of a traffic stop. Often a person will be pulled over for a traffic offense which will lead to interaction with law enforcement. During this interaction the officer will sometimes develop probable cause or articulable suspicion that the person may have drugs in the car.
One way this can be established is if the officer smells marijuana. And while it has always been common for officers to search a car based on the fact that they smell recently burnt marijuana, it is now becoming more common to see cases where officers will testify that they smelled unburnt marijuana in the car.
This is often surprising because the marijuana they claim to smell will be in a sealed plastic package located, for instance, inside a sealed Ziploc baggie which is located inside a Tupperware container inside a backpack under clothes in the backseat of the car. Yet, after the officers have searched the car they claim that they could smell the marijuana and that’s why they searched the vehicle. The courts have become skeptical of that claim, but often, an officer will attempt to justify the search of a car based on their testimony that they smelled unburnt marijuana.
In the Metro Atlanta area, there is a multi-jurisdictional drug task force that consists of members of the federal authorities that include the FBI and the DEA, state authorities that include the GBI and the Georgia State Patrol, and the police departments of the various counties and cities in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.
This multi-jurisdictional task force was developed several years ago when it became apparent that Atlanta was serving as a hub for drug distribution. Specifically, the area sees lots of reports of drugs coming out of Florida and from the Gulf Coast on the interstates through Atlanta where the packages are broken down for redistribution to northern cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, and New York.
For this reason, law enforcement has focused on Atlanta because it has become a central distribution hub for drugs much in the same way that it’s a hub for airlines and cargo shipments in legitimate cases. This task force is very, very active. They have been able to use wiretaps and have developed a substantial network of confidential informants, and has made a lot of drug arrests in Atlanta
A driver is never required to give their consent to a search of a car, their personal effects, or even their body, by a law enforcement officer. They can ask for consent and anyone can give it, if they wish. However, most often, an attorney will encourage people not to give consent to the search. If the officer has a legitimate reason such as probable cause or some sort of exigent circumstances to search your vehicle or your person without your consent, so be it, but let the officer figure that out.
Generally speaking, attorneys tell people that if a law enforcement officer asks to search your vehicle, you should politely decline. Politely say, “No, sir, no ma’am, I do not give you consent to search my vehicle.” You can never be required to give consent. In a situation where a person is intimidated or threatened in order to give consent, that’s called coercion and that is not freely and voluntarily giving consent. If they say that they have a valid reason to search you anyway, then don’t fight them, let them do it, but make it clear that you do protest the search.