Can a police officer charge all occupants of a car with possession of paraphernalia if one of them admits that it was theirs?

My 2 friends and I got pulled over and searched and they found a pipe in the car. My one friend tried to tell the officer that it was hers and his response was that he “would not buy it” and proceeded to give all of us a charge for paraphernalia. Is this something that an officer can do? And why would he do that? My understanding is that they just need one person to take claim and the rest should walk, it somehow doesn’t make sense.

Asked on September 16, 2011 under Criminal Law, Indiana

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Police officers are permitted to asses the situation at hand when they have stopped a car for valid reasons.  The are entitled to use their training and their insight and if they choose not to believe the person who steps up to take the rap then that is their prerogative.  They can then issue the summons or summonses as they choose.  It does not mean that the charges will hold up.  If your friend does indeed take responsibility for ownership then the charge against you may be dismissed.  It may be a good time to speak with an attorney in the matter.  You need to discuss with them the entire event as it unfolded.  If they pulled you over and they had no right to do so - probable cause - then the search could be illegal and thrown out. 


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