The Supreme Court recently ruled on a case. Essentially, the police pulled over a car and found drugs. No one in the car knew where the drugs came from (or so they told the police) and everyone in the car was arrested. One person took it to the Supreme Court after they were found guilty of possession.
The Court ruled that all passengers may be arrested in a car in such a case.
This is a tough call either way.
And before you start yelling that I am coddling criminals- suppose for a second that you are borrowing a friend's car. The gas gauge on the car is broken (which you do not know) and you run out of gas. You are in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone signal.
As you stand by your car wondering what to do, a car stops and the driver offers to take you to town to get gas. You accept his generosity and get in the car. There is the driver and two passengers.
Of course you get pulled over, and no one knows how the cocaine got in the car. You get arrested.
See, you can get caught up in the web...at least the War on Drugs is still going strong...
The other problem I foresee is that the ruling applies to cars as it stands. But what about a taxi? Should you be arrested because a cop pulls over a taxi and finds drugs lodged in the seat that fell out of the pocket of the previous passenger?
And if we allow taxis (public transportation essentially), what about a bus? And if a bus, what about the Fast Ferry? Or an airplane? Doesn't it stand to reason that if heroin is found on a plane, one of the 300 passengers stashed it there? Why not arrest everyone on the plane until you can figure out who left it?
And if you can do so with a plane, why not a restaurant? Obviously ONE of the patrons left the pot in the toilet. Ditto a bus station, airport, Central Park....
And before you tell me that I am being ridiculous- remember these powers are wielded by the same government that HAD to have the PATRIOT Act passed in order to combat terrorism...the same government that is now using the Patriot Act in non-terrorist situations...
Any powers in the hands of the government will be used upon the people. It is one of the basic truisms of life. And anyone who doesn't believe it is being naive.
-Zjabs (Rochester's Official Columnist)
© 2003 david zjaba - 12/30/03