An 18-year-old man from Bellefonte was arrested recently after police allegedly discovered drugs, drug paraphernalia and a prohibited weapon in his possession. On Sept. 12, Pennsylvania State Police were called to a Bellefonte address after a report of an argument. A trooper met with the individual reported to be involved, who was the 18-year-old. The trooper reported finding a set of metal knuckles and two suspicious pills in his possession.
The state trooper reportedly then asked permission to search the young man's backpack. At that point, the young man acted entirely properly in denying permission for that search.
In this case, the young man claimed that some other person had "put stuff in his backpack," according to the Center Daily Times. His reason for withholding his consent to the search is largely immaterial but, if he can substantiate that claim, it could contribute to his defense.
Unfortunately for the young man, a judge was willing to grant a search warrant under the circumstances. The police searched the backpack and allegedly found several wax and glassine bags containing suspicious residue. A search of the man's wallet reportedly yielded five wax bags containing a white powder.
The white powder was tested at the State Police's Rockview barracks, according to the police, and tested positive for heroin.
He was arraigned later that day and is now facing misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of at least one prohibited offensive weapon (the metal knuckles). His bail was set at $2,500 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 20, according to the Centre Daily Times.
Although the defendant did end up facing charges, he was wise to protect his rights when he was approached by the police. If you are ever contacted by police about any criminal matter, you should know that you have the right to deny permission for a search of your bag, car or residence if your consent is requested. Police may generally perform a pat-down search without your consent in order to ensure you are not armed.
If you are searched anyway, the police may or may not have obtained a warrant. If they did not, they may have violated your rights by searching you without your consent. In any case, you should discuss what happened with an experienced criminal defense attorney to further protect your rights and to determine your next steps.