When is an ordinary bag of cotton candy an object of suspicion and a possible sign of drug trafficking?
Apparently, when the police in Munroe County, Florida, see it sitting in a car during what should have been a rather routine traffic stop.
A Florida woman suffered a nearly four-month ordeal that started when she was falsely accused of trafficking meth on New Year’s Eve 2016. Officers stopped the borrowed car she and her boyfriend were riding in due to its dark-tinted windows. During the stop, officers asked if they could search the car, and the woman agreed.
That was a mistake.
When an officer spotted the offending bag of sugary fluff, he immediately demanded to know what it was. Unsatisfied with the answer, he pulled out a roadside drug testing kit and checked the substance in the bag. The roadside test said that the bag contained methamphetamine — and the officer couldn’t be persuaded to even consider testing it again to be sure. The woman and her boyfriend were hauled off in handcuffs.
Charged with drug trafficking and the intent to distribute, the woman was given a $1 million cash bond by the court — something she had no hope to pay. So, unable to do anything else, she sat in jail while the alleged meth was sent off to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) for further testing. Luckily for her, the tests used by the GBI were significantly more accurate than the roadside tests that officers use. The lab eventually confirmed that the blue spun sugar was drug-free, and the charges against her were dismissed.
While it’s important to note that drug tests used by police at traffic stops aren’t meant to provide anything more than a presumptive result, it’s also important to note that drug charges like this might be avoided if people were more aware of their rights. If an officer asks to look around your car, make no mistake: They are trying to find something.
Exercise your right to refuse an unwarranted search and decline permission — even if you think you have nothing to hide. Otherwise, you may find yourself suddenly in need of an experienced defense attorney.