Let us start by saying: it’s never a good idea to speed, drive recklessly or leave a broken taillight unfixed. There’s been a real crackdown by the Tennessee State Police, and by local municipalities as well, to keep reckless and drunk drivers at bay, and you put yourself and others at risk when you drive aggressively or erratically. But if breaking traffic laws in general is a bad idea, then doing so when you’re transporting a dog’s weight in marijuana is a terrible one.
Perhaps not being in Tennessee was all the reason Nashville’s Wilburn Standridge needed to ignore the rules of the road in Oklahoma City, Ok. But you can’t ignore traffic laws in Oklahoma either, and when the cops pulled him over they found 36.5 lbs of marijuana in his car. That’s about the same weight as an average four year old, or a 40” LCD television.
Mr. Standridge is now facing drug trafficking charges.
Marijuana trafficking penalties are severe, too
Here’s the thing about drug trafficking; it can be a federal offense. It’s not like Tennessee or Oklahoma has stricter laws about it than any other state –the United States criminal code and the United States Sentencing Guidelines set the fines and penalties. 36.5 lbs is about 16.5 kilograms, and marijuana is a scheduled controlled substance with its own set of rules. Because of the amount of marijuana Mr. Standridge was carrying, he faces up to $250,000 in fines and up to five years in prison, if he’s convicted. If he’s a repeat offender, however, the penalties can be double.
A good criminal defense attorney may be able to have the charges dismissed based upon the suppression of the evidence, given that the car was searched because of “suspicious circumstances.” If Mr. Standridge’s lawyer can convince a judge that the search was unwarranted or illegal, then the only thing the cops will have is their traffic violation. Since no cops ever want to have their charges thrown out because of an illegal search, and because charges are so often dropped for that very reason, it will be interesting to see how this case plays out.
Either way, the lawyer should fight for a reduced bond, since some judges will set a bond as high as a million dollars. Then again, since Mr. Standridge is from Tennessee, the judge may deem him a flight risk.If the case is prosecuted federally, then he is likely to remain in custody pending trial as there is no provision for bond in the federal system. We’ll be watching the case to see how it all pans out.