Drug possession and drug trafficking are two very serious offenses in New York. When it comes to narcotics, New York has historically been one of the more strict enforcers of drug laws. However, our drug crimes attorneys know it is not a crime when cops simply smell drugs.

Contact with Police

A large majority of drug possession and drug trafficking cases in New York are based on the police finding evidence of a potential legal violation before corroborating their suspicions with statements made by suspects and witnesses.

What most people don’t realize is that they are under no obligation to speak to police, no matter the type of crime is being investigated.

Our legal system is not just a black and white set of laws – it is a web of rules, requirements, exceptions and elements that must all be applied based on the specific facts of the case at hand. It is an environment where saying the wrong thing, even in the wrong tone of voice, could lead to significantly harsher sentences than may actually be prudent or required under the circumstances.

Because they can have no way of knowing how their statements will be construed or interpreted by readers of the police report later, it is always better for suspects to refuse to respond to questions and to immediately request an attorney whenever contact with police is initiated.

I Smell Drugs

One tactic that police use in order to cause suspects to incriminate themselves (which suspects always have the right not to do), is to make statements and wait for a response. One such statement is I smell drugs. Believe it or not, but once most people hear this statement, they hear a question that they think has to be answered. Not only is this statement not even a question that could be answered, but the person to whom the statement is made is under no legal obligation to provide an answer, even if the statement had been made in the form of a question.

In fact, nowhere in New York law is the act of smelling like anything a crime. The odor of drugs may be probable cause for the police officer to detain a person, but it is not actually a crime that could even be ticketed. The way an odor leads to an arrest and conviction is, when upon hearing that police officers smell drugs, detained individuals start volunteering information in the hopes it will get them out of trouble. In most cases, efforts to get themselves out of trouble is actually what leads to suspects getting themselves into more trouble simply because police officers smell drugs on or near the suspect.

After Questions are Refused

When a person tells a police officer in the field that he or she is refusing to answer questions, they may be hit with other questions, like “Why?”

When this happens, suspects should tell police, again, as politely as possible, that they are not answering questions, and again request the presence of an attorney. This might create a visibly frustrated police officer, but suspects should not worry, for if a police officer actually has the right to make an arrest or conduct a search, the officer doesn’t need the permission of the suspect in order to do the officer’s job.

Make no mistake about it, everything a police officer says to a suspect in the field is tactically designed to get the suspect to incriminate him or herself. Keep this in mind and always refuse to answer questions regarding drug investigations until experienced legal counsel has been obtained.

What Happens When The Dog Accuses You?

First, imagine that you’ve been pulled over by the police even though you haven’t done anything wrong. Secondly, now imagine that the police officer who stopped you is accompanied by a drug-sniffing German Shepherd. Now, you don’t have to just worry about the police office claiming that he or she smells drugs, but also that the dog will react to something that he smells. Do you have the right to refuse a “dog-sniff” test? Yes you do, and in fact, it’s a bad idea to submit to a police dog-sniff test. If you’re charged with any crime in New York on the basis on evidence obtained through the use of a police dog, get legal help at once and contact an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer.

The behavior of drug-sniffing dogs is often used as probable cause to search a vehicle at a traffic stop, but research is proving that drug-sniffing dogs are unreliable. According to a study conducted by the Chicago Tribune in 2011, when a dog indicates that illegal drugs are in a vehicle, the dogs are right in only 44 percent of these incidents. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 (in Illinois v. Caballes) that police do not need reasonable suspicion to employ drug-sniffing dogs during a legitimate traffic stop. However, if the police don’t have a dog with them at the time of the traffic stop, they need probable cause to detain you until a K-9 unit arrives. If an officer detains you in this situation, you have the right to refuse a search.

Your refusal may not stop the police from detaining you and using the K-9 anyway. If the police arrest you, a good defense attorney will make sure that your rights are protected. If the police did not have probable cause to detain you, your attorney will ask the court to throw out any evidence obtained through an illegal search. On Long Island and anywhere in New York City, if you’re charged with any crime because of evidence obtained by the use of a police dog, arrange to speak at once with an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer. Don’t trust your case with a public defender who may have never worked on this type of case before. There is too much at risk to put your future in the hands of a public defender. Instead, go to a trusted Long Island criminal defense attorney.