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Even a minor traffic stop can lead to very serious allegations

All too often, a major criminal case begins as nothing more than a routine traffic stop. That is just what happened in sensational fashion to a man in Virginia Beach over the holiday weekend.

On July 4, a Virginia State Police officer observed a GMC Denali driving on Interstate 264 at Mount Trashmore. The officer suspected that the driver was speeding, and made a traffic stop.

Upon questioning the driver, the officer said that he believed that he detected the odor of marijuana. After searching the vehicle and the driver, the officer discovered five pounds of marijuana and $2,900 in cash. The marijuana is worth approximately $27,000.

The driver of the vehicle is now being charged with drug possession with the intent to distribute. He also was not able to dodge those initial accusations of driving with a lead foot, and has been additionally charged with speeding.

Sometimes, it is just not your day. You are in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and police officers catch you in a compromising situation. But, there are things you can do to help ensure that you have a valid defense when you are criminally charged.

Be polite and respectful to officers, but know your rights. Do not consent to a search and do not offer more information than necessary. You have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to remain silent; use them. You can talk yourself into trouble, but you cannot talk yourself out of it.

You also have the right to an attorney. This is a right you should exercise as soon as possible after you have been arrested.

If you are smart in your interactions with the police, and you get legal help quickly following an arrest, you may be able to cobble together a legal defense that keeps you from having to serve an overbearing sentence.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Traffic stop in Va. Beach leads to drug charge," Cindy Clayton, July 7, 2014

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