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Criminal defense: Woman jailed over cotton candy

Georgia residents often place an enormous amount of trust in the police, and rightly so. Police officers provide valuable services, but they are still human and as such often make mistakes. It is important for defendants to remember this when working on their criminal defense plans, as it is possible to have criminal charges dismissed because of police error.

In 2016, two police officers initiated a traffic stop because they thought that the vehicle's window tint was darker than permitted by law. After inspecting the windows they determined that the tint was in fact fine. However, the two officers then performed what was described as an extensive search of the vehicle's interior, although it is not clear why they felt justified in doing so. Eventually they found a plastic bag with an unidentified blue substance. A roadside test gave a positive result for methamphetamine.

Both the driver and his passenger were arrested despite their claims that the substance was not a drug, but was only a bit of cotton candy. Her claims were rejected and, unable to pay her $1 million cash bond, remained incarcerated for four months until later testing showed that the substance was indeed cotton candy. In April 2017 her charges were dismissed, but the arrest still shows up on her criminal record.

The roadside test used to obtain the positive drug result is apparently notoriously defective, and more thorough testing likely should have taken place earlier. These types of issues are often caused by lapses in judgment and decision-making by Georgia police, and can be devastating for defendants. In some cases, an early and thorough approach to criminal defense planning can help defendants achieve a necessary dismissal of charges in as timely a manner as possible.

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