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Women charged with weapons offenses after hotel search

The laws protecting citizens from unlawful search and seizure are often carefully skirted by police. While their efforts to curb crime are commendable, the result may be the violation of civil rights and potentially an unlawful arrest. Two North Carolina women are now facing weapons offenses following a search of their hotel room, the validity of which a defense attorney may question in court.

Police officers reported that they were walking past the hotel on routine patrol when they smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the area of a particular room. A magistrate granted a search warrant based on the officers' claims. The officers knocked on the hotel room door. A woman answered, and police engaged her in conversation.

While speaking with the woman, officers say they noticed marijuana on a table in the room. They entered the room and executed a search warrant, which reportedly revealed a sawed-off shotgun with the serial numbers removed. The more than 12-inch barrel classified the gun as a weapon of mass destruction according to North Carolina law. This, along with the scratched off serial numbers, are felony counts.

Although police did not find the amount of marijuana they expected, they did file felony weapons charges in addition to misdemeanor drug charges against the 18-year-old woman and another 20-year-old woman who was also in the hotel room. As this proceeding moves forward, a defense attorney may question the scope of the search warrant and whether officers executed it within the law. Having legal representation in the face of weapons offenses is certainly a wise decision.

Source: newsobserver.com, "It wasn't the pot. It was a shotgun that led to felony charges for 2 women", Ron Gallagher, Sept. 14, 2017

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Women charged with weapons offenses after hotel search | Messer Law Firm