Thursday, March 02, 2006

Man showing off OnStar leads to drug arrest

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Associated Press
Posted March 1 2006

ST. AUGUSTINE -- A man showing off his OnStar system in his Cadillac Escalade found out the system worked too well.

Ralph A. Gomez, 38, was being held in the St. Johns County Jail Wednesday on $15,000 bond on charges of possession of an illegal narcotic within 1,000 feet of a church and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Gomez was showing off his OnStar system to his girlfriend, but the volume was set so low that he couldn't hear the OnStar operator. OnStar comes on many new General Motors vehicles and allows a customer to contact an OnStar representative in an emergency or to get directions.

If there is no response, OnStar contacts police.

That's what happened with Gomez on Friday night, Tom Clements, a spokesman for the St. Augustine Police Department, said Wednesday.

When police located Gomez' car, they determined there was no problem. But Clements said cocaine was clearly visible on the car's center console.

In addition to seizing $1,900 in the case, the Cadillac equipped with the OnStar system was also seized, Clements said.

There was no information available from Clements or the jail on whether Gomez has a lawyer.


Blogger 800 pound gorilla said...

I'm not a lawyer but I believe that this is a clear cut prosecution for police for possession. Gomez [inadvertently] invited police to check out his car and the Onstar gave them the location.

There is one glaring problem though: the police have to prove that the cocaine belonged to Gomez. This has been contested in traffic courts whenever the driver has eluded police and abandoned the vehicle. If the police can't place the driver in the vehicle, then they can't prove that he/she was guilty of an infraction. That wouldn't stop the police from impounding the cocaine and the vehicle without a hearing in many states that don't have laws protecting citizens from Asset Forfeiture abuse. If that is the case, that is the likely outcome of the incident.

While the stated purpose of drug laws is to prevent the distribution and sale of "dangerous drugs" [as listed by the head of the DEA with absolutely no identifiable standards whatsoever - although no news editor will ever publicize that fact; I know, I've tried] the fact remains that drug warriors will always insist on criminal penalties for those in possession. They need these as "bargaining chips" for forced rehab of people who may or may not have a serious drug use problem. It also works for those states that restrict "profit sharing" for police using Asset Forfeiture laws.

3/03/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger SkookumJoe said...

what does being near a church have to do with it? God made the cocoa plant sure as he made little green buds. And grapes, for that matter.

3/03/2006 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Busty Wilde said...

800 pg: I agree - even though the police had no intention of searching the car for cocaine or any other illegal substances, the fact that they stumbled upon it cannot be ignored. While I hate people being prosecuted for drug use, I know the law, and there are certain things you just can't do. Maybe he should have been smart and wiped off the center console when he saw the flashing lights. Sucks to be him.

skookumjoe: the part of being within 1,000 feet of a church is just yet another detail of one of the many federal drug laws that make the penalties harsher for those caught doing anything with drugs (possessing, distributing, etc.). I think schools, youth centers, day care centers, and other publicly-used places like this are also included with the churches. I'm sure they love it, because you have a great chance of being within 1,000 feet of at least one of these places wherever you are...

3/04/2006 08:21:00 PM  

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