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Former Memphis congressman's son arrested on drug charges

With the 2012 presidential election just around the corner, it's not unusual to hear about a politician's family in the news. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's bad. Unfortunately, for former Memphis congressman Harold Ford Sr., the recent news about his family was related to drug charges.

The former congressman's son, Newton "Jake" Ford, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and drug possession after he was found sitting in the driver's seat of his car in a parking lot as Memphis police were responding to a complaint. According to a police affidavit, when Ford stepped out of the vehicle after the officers asked him to, they saw a small amount of marijuana fall from the car. After Ford was detained, his blood alcohol content registered at .142. The legal limit in Tennessee is .08. Ford was released from Shelby County Jail later that day after posting a $1,000 bond.

An arrest for drug possession can have serious consequences. However, those facing drug charges may have a number of defenses available to them. One of those defenses is unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to due process of law. Due process includes lawful search and seizure before an arrest. If illegal drugs are found in "plain view," which can include the dashboard of a car after a legal traffic stop, the drugs may be seized and later used as evidence. But, if the drugs are found in the trunk of the car after authorities pry it open without the suspect's permission, the drugs cannot be entered into evidence. If a court finds that a defendant's Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights were violated, the evidence cannot be used at trial, and the charges will likely be dismissed.

Drug charges can affect a wide variety of people. Whether a person is an "average Joe," or a son of a congressman, the charges should be taken seriously. Knowing what defenses are available to a person charged with drug possession can help keep him out of jail.

Source: Commercial Appeal, "Police report: Jake Ford charged with DUI, drug possession," Scott Carroll, Aug. 28, 2012

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