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Police seek cookie-maker, but file criminal charges for handgun

An arrest for crime can be for an offense that the police did not contemplate when they first started the investigation. In this case, Maryland authorities were investigating pot-laced cookies at a Baltimore private high school. The zeroed on a school employee but couldn't connect him to the offense. When they went to his house looking for marijuana they found instead a handgun laying in the open on the man's fireplace mantle. They nabbed him on criminal charges but not for illicit drugged-up cookies; instead, they arrested the 40-year-old Baltimore resident for being a felon in possession of a handgun, according to police.

He is being held in prison in lieu of $350,000 bail, which by all accounts appears to be draconian for a single gun possession charge. He had a 1996 conviction for cocaine possession and a 1999 conviction for handgun possession. If the man didn't have that over record from more than 13 years ago, he would be generally doing nothing wrong by having a gun for protection in his house.

The investigation and arrest of the suspect arise out of reports that students in a school for sixth through 12th graders in Northeast Baltimore had ingested marijuana-laced cookies. Several of them had been taken to a hospital apparently with symptoms. The investigation then led police to the suspect and to his house, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. Strangely, he ended up with weapons charges instead of drug-laced cookie distributions.

That would seem to indicate a lack of probable cause under Maryland and federal law on the marijuana suspicion, which may be a potential issue regarding an illegal search of the man's home. Even if he gave consent, was it permissible for the police to request entrance when they did not have at least probable cause to do so? Furthermore, assuming they did not get a warrant, even with probable cause the search could have been defective without a warrant because authorities must get one whenever feasible. These are issues for the accused to discuss and evaluate with his criminal defense counsel regarding these criminal charges.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, Suspected marijuana cookies in Baltimore school leads to staffer's gun arrest, Justin Fenton, Oct. 30, 2013

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