Meth and pot charges droppedIn a proceeding that lasted less than two minutes, methamphetamine and marijuana charges against a Dickinson man were dismissed in Stark County District Court Monday afternoon.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
In a proceeding that lasted less than two minutes, methamphetamine and marijuana charges against a Dickinson man were dismissed in Stark County District Court Monday afternoon.
When Darrel Byers was pulled over on June 23 for failing to signal, police proceeded to search his vehicle and found “in excess of” 1 ounce of meth with intent to deliver, a Class A felony, and “in excess of” 1 ounce of marijuana with intent to deliver, a Class B felony.
Dickinson Police Department Chief Chuck Rummel said the exact amount seized could not be released. Senior Patrol Officer Nick Gates, who cited the violation, did not return calls for comment Monday.
“We had a major defect in the basis for the search,” said Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning.
Prosecution and defense councils made a motion to dismiss the charges based on insufficient evidence. Henning dubbed the case an “irreparable search and seizure issue.”
Byers’ attorney, Kelly Armstrong of Dickinson, cited a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Arizona v. Gant, decided April 21. The ruling concluded that vehicles cannot be searched without a warrant or probable cause, as supported by Fourth Amendment rights.
Henning said even though the South Sakakawea Narcotics Task Force had received a tip from an unidentified source, police had not obtained a search warrant.
“They got the tip but an unsubstantiated tip is not a right to probable cause — it’s suspicion,” he said. “If they were able to tell the judge who their informant was, that would be good enough to get a search warrant.”
Out on a $1,000 bond prior to Monday’s hearing, a now freed and smiling Byers said he had no comment.
“It was a bad case, they had no legal justification for stopping the vehicle,” Armstrong said.