A new case from the Supreme Judicial court was a major victory for defendants arrested as part of street level drug transactions. It basically says that just because a police officer witnesses what appears to be a drug transaction, and is justified in stopping the defendant, this does not necessarily mean that the cop has a right to pat-frisk the suspect for weapons. There must be separate indications that the suspect is armed and dangerous. Commonwealth v. Paul Gomes, 453 Mass. 506 (2009)
I offer kudos to the Supreme Judicial Court for recognizing that guns and drugs do not always go together. In fact, most drug dealers are smart enough to know that firearms charges carry a mandatory one-year sentence, so usually they leave their guns at home. Just because cops and prosecutors claim that criminals behave a certain way, it doesn’t make it so.