Cops Arrest Three, but Main Perp Escapes

In a story with several legal principles in play, police arrested three in Sharp County on drug charges, even though the subject of their search managed to sneak away. The tale, as reported in the Spring River Chronicle, starts with police officers from the County Sheriff’s Department, accompanied by Arkansas State Police and narcotics officers, arriving to serve a search warrant at a location in Sharp County. They were seeking Dudly Thomas.

When asked, the occupant, Patricia Pridemore indicated Thomas was upstairs. But he scooted before the police could catch him. The police did, however, find two people in a bedroom with drugs and drug paraphernalia, “in plain sight.” And that’s a critical point. If the cops are out to find a human being, they can’t just search willy-nilly in dresser drawers or other places where a person couldn’t fit.

By spotting the drugs during a legal search, the police could, and did, arrest the two found with the drugs and a third person in another room. After searching the three, police found methamphetamine, a pill bottle with prescription drugs, a syringe and “a small amount of a leafy substance.” The latter was suspected to be marijuana. Police also confiscated glass smoking devices and other pills in unmarked containers.

With three arrested and the original suspect gone, serving the warrant became a ticket to discover other possible crimes. Patricia Pridemore, who let the police in, was not arrested or charged.

The take home lesson for substance abusers who wish to avoid arrest is to keep their stash out of sight and where the police won’t see it when searching for someone under the authority of a warrant. It is not true that police have to ignore criminal activity during a search and in fact, they are required to make an arrest if they see a crime in progress. Once that initial arrest happens, more is allowed, including searching the personal belongings of those arrested.

Of course, the best course is not to use illegal substances at all.


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