It is not uncommon for a criminal law case to be based on the following scenario: the police allegedly observe an individual handling some contraband, such as a gun or illegal drugs, approach that person and he or she discards the item. The police then retrieve the item and use it as evidence to make an arrest. In such a so-called “dropsy” case, the question becomes: was there a violation of search and seizure laws?
The Reason for the Approach
Police need to have what is known as an articulable suspicion that some crime may be occurring before approaching a suspect. A criminal defense lawyer may well argue that the officer had no reasonable basis to approach the person, and that when the person discarded the contraband and the police retrieved it, that constituted an illegal seizure. The police may contend the person was observed with the illegal item in his or her possession, but that may be a matter of dispute.
Abandoning the Contraband
Law enforcement will typically argue that once the item was discarded, it was in effect abandoned by the person. Consequently, since there is no ownership interest in an abandoned item, it cannot be the subject of an illegal seizure. A skilled criminal lawyer may counter that the seizure in fact took place as the police approached the suspect.
Contact a Grand Rapids Criminal Law Attorney for Legal Advice
Contesting the evidence in a criminal case requires knowledgeable and aggressive counsel. To explore the options you may have in your case, call Miel & Carr, PLC, a Grand Rapids criminal law attorney group, at (616) 773-2945.