Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

SALEM CAR STOP RESULTS IN DISCOVERY OF DRUGS, MONEY AND A FUGITIVE FROM AN EARLY DRUG TRAFFICKING CASE

Folks still try…but one very seldom outruns a default warrant for long.

Edgardo Rivera-Alvarado (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), allegedly has just learned this lesson.

According to law enforcement, the Defendant jumped bail seven years ago in a drug trafficking case. Now,41 years of age, he has been  found to have been living in Lowell under the assumed identity of Jose Lopez.  Allegedly.

Lopez was the name on the Defendant’s driver’s license, Social Security card and state of Pennsylvania identification card he handed officers following a traffic stop Friday on Margin Street in Peabody.

Authorities also say they recovered a cache of drugs and money hidden inside his SUV when he was stopped.

He is now an involuntary guest of the Commonwealth, held on $250,000 bail.

According to the Salem News , Peabody detectives were watching a home when they saw the Defendant pull into a driveway, spend about two minutes inside the home, then pull back out.

This might not seem like suspicious behavior to you, but to law enforcement it is  reason to believe that drug trafficking is taking place. Particularly if they are already conducting surveillance at what they suspect is a “drug location”.

The officers, who were in plainclothes and an unmarked car, say that they then saw the Defendant pull his Lincoln MKX over on Oakland Street. They watched as the SUV’s brake lights flashed on and off repeatedly for about four or five minutes, as the Defendant allegedly moved around inside.

As the Lincoln pulled away, the detectives attempted to pull it over on Margin Street. They say that they observed the driver begin stuffing items into his mouth and taking large gulps of water.

After forcing the car over to the side of the road, the detectives say the Defendant kept trying to swallow items and swigging from the water bottle.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Car Stops

Let’s stop the action right here in the story although there is more to it. What you have just read is the apparent full justification the police use when they pull over a vehicle in such a case.

“Sam, can’t the police pull the Defendant over and arrest him just on the default warrant?”

Yes. But, at this point, they did not know who the Defendant was. At this point, the prosecution must show that the police had “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity in order to stop the car. If they cannot convince a judge that they had reasonable suspicion to do so, then (assuming defense counsel brought the proper motion to suppress). If the prosecution fails to do so, then all the evidence seized thereafter will most likely be suppressed. In other words, the prosecution will not be able to use the evidence and…particularly in a case like this…the case my get dismissed.

“Including the warrant?”

No. They have found the Defendant (allegedly). That earlier case can continue.

So, what are the signs of illegal activity do we have so far?

  1. (assumedly) the location is a suspected drug location;
  2. The short period of time in which the Defendant’s vehicle pulled into the driveway and pulled out again;
  3. The flashing of the lights in the Defendant’s car; and
  4. The attempts by the Defendant as purportedly seen by the police swallowing things and guzzling water.

“Wasn’t #4 a result of the police trying to stop the Defendant’s car?”

Yes. That is an argument that the defense should make to eliminate that factor. Clearly, what they end up finding in the car has not yet been found so that also cannot be a factor.

“So we are left with the pulling in and out of the suspected drug location?”

Basically.

“Is that enough?”

It depends.

We will return to this story on my next posting.

Until then, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

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