A Detroit man was stopped initially for jaywalking. During their encounter with the man and their ensuing search, the police found 30 bags of marijuana as well as an illegal gun in his possession. Apparently, the suspect has a felony on his record, so he was legally barred from having a firearm.
It seems like quite a score for the police, right? It would have been, except that the suspect’s lawyer argued that his client wasn’t “jaywalking,” because he didn’t disrupt any traffic. He was only “crossing the street.” And because the whole encounter with the police was based on that faulty accusation, the entire stop, including any evidence that he was involved in criminal activity, was invalid.
Even though it was obvious the guy was involved in some kind of illegal activity, the judge dropped all the charges against him.
So, why would I be glad this guy “got away” with his crimes? First of all, guns aren’t the problem, so I don’t think there should be any such thing as an “illegal gun.” Secondly, I don’t like the failed war on drugs. If someone wants to grow, market, and sell a plant such as marijuana, that should be his business, and the government shouldn’t get involved. The government shouldn’t be in the business of trying to control and ban a plant.
But even if those were reasonable charges to bring against the man, I still think the charges should be dropped. Police have to have probable cause to search someone. They can’t just pick someone out at random and search them like they do in New York with stop and frisk, or like the TSA at the airport. Under the 4th Amendment, there has to be probable cause and a warrant listing the things to be searched for. Without probable cause, there’s no justification for a stop, an interrogation, or a search. Even if the guy were jaywalking, that’s not probable cause that he was a drug dealer.
People are saying that Robinson “got away” with his crimes on a “technicality.” Well, the police would argue that technically, the man broke the law by having a gun, even though he has a felony on his record. Technically, you’re not allowed to have marijuana in your possession, because that’s a controlled substance. They arrested Robinson and were planning on putting him away for life on a couple…technicalities.
It works both ways. Police try to arrest, ticket, or jail people on technicalities. They do that for their own personal gain. Anytime you get pulled over for going over the speed limit or rolling through a stop sign, you’re getting ticketed on a technicality. And people hire lawyers to help them stay out of jail and get out of tickets based on technicalities. I’d rather too many people “get away” with gun and drug charges than too many people get locked up on trumped up charges.