It is no secret that law enforcement agencies in Nebraska are all on the lookout for rental cars and cars from other states on I-80. Law enforcement knows that marijuana purchased legally in Colorado is being driven to Nebraska and through Nebraska to other destinations. The constitutional and statutory principles that apply to interstate interdiction cases are the very same legal principles applicable to any other type of criminal prosecution. Specifically, in interdiction cases, there is a traffic stop followed by a detention of your person, vehicle and belongings (meaning you are not free to leave) and ultimately a search of your person, vehicle and belongings.
The law requires the police to justify those intrusions into your privacy, and they are often unable to do so.
A typical interdiction case begins with a traffic stop of a car on the interstate. The officer will likely tell you he pulled you over because you committed some minor traffic violation (following too closely seems to be the current favorite). You will then be asked to take a seat in the cruiser while the officer runs your record and issues you a “courtesy citation.” During the wait, the officer will engage you in conversation. He or she will likely question you as to where you are going, length of stay, who you were seeing – general nature and purpose of travel questions. The officer will ask the same questions repeatedly trying to get you to provide inconsistent answers.
Finally, the officer will tell you your business with him is finished, issue you a “courtesy citation,” and the officer might even say, “you are free to leave.” Before you are out of the cruiser, however, the officer will ask if you have a few minutes to answer a few more questions; the last one being, “do you mind if I search your car.” Regardless of your answer to that question, your car WILL be searched, even if further detention on the side of the road is necessary to wait for a drug sniffing dog to arrive.
Make no mistake about it, you are absolutely being profiled. Profiling, however, is not against the law and the police are not prohibited from doing it. The police must establish legal justification for the initial stop, the continued detention beyond the stated reason for the traffic stop and ultimately the search, before any evidence may be used against you by the State. It is often the case that law enforcement officers fail to establish legal justification with regard to the stop, the detention and/or the search.
Do not allow yourself to be victimized by police misconduct and overreaching. At Dunn Law, we will explain your rights to you, how your rights benefit you legally, and we will aggressively fight to defend them. Pat has been successfully representing people in interdiction cases and all other kinds of drug related cases for 25 years. Let him help you!