Today I appeared in Morris County Superior Court for a client with two pending drug cases. The first involved a traffic stop where he was the passenger in a car pulled over for allegedly turing without using its signal. The police "knew" my client (you don't ever want to be "known" by the police. It's NOT a good thing) The police saw a dollar bill wrapped with a rubber band and asked both occupants to step out. Hmm. Probable cause? I'm not sure. The driver tells the police that my client has heroin, plus he's "known" by the police. They "pat down" my client and find 20 decks of heroin.
I'm not sure that the police had sufficient probable cause to pat him down. Just because the police are familiar with his criminal past, doesn't mean that he is in the process of doing anything illegal at the moment he's stopped. The traffic stop is just that: a traffic stop. There is nothing beyond the dollar bill "straw" to indicate that there is anything illegal going on. Further, the police report makes no mention of the officer being concerned for his safety or thinking that my client had any weapons on him.
Based on this lack of probably cause it may be possible to win a motion to suppress evidence and challenge the validity of the "pat down".