Traffic stops in Indianapolis generally do not lead to serious criminal charges, but occasionally, a police officer will notice something about the vehicle or the driver that arouses suspicion about other criminal activity. In such cases, the police may make a thorough search of the vehicle, the driver and any passengers for evidence of additional criminal activity. A recent arrest by the Indiana State police shows how a relatively small violation of the state's traffic laws can lead to the possibility of far more serious criminal charges being lodged against the driver and passengers.
The stop reportedly occurred when a state trooper noticed a minivan driving with only one functioning headlight. When the trooper stopped the van, he learned that the driver did not possess a valid license. Neither did any of the five passengers in the van. Police then conducted a search of the vehicle before they impounded it. The search allegedly revealed three handguns, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Police say that one of the guns was reported stolen. Police also allege that they found a black ski mask near one of the guns.
Four of the six individuals in the van were arrested. All four are teenagers, and two of the four are younger than 17 and therefore juveniles. The preliminary charges against the older teens include possession of a firearm by a violent felon, possession of a firearm without a permit, possession of marijuana and operating a motor vehicle without a valid license. The two juveniles were arrested on suspicion of dangerous possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm without a permit. No information has been released about the two passengers who were not arrested.
The first reports of the arrests did not specify the grounds used by the police to search the van or the reasons why all four teenagers were arrested. In such cases, a capable criminal defense attorney may be able to find defects in the procedures used to justify or carry out the search. Such defects can often be the grounds for a favorable plea agreement or outright acquittal.
Source: RTV6, "Four teens arrested with guns, ski-mask," Jordan Fischer, Oct. 4, 2017