Who doesn’t like getting packages in the mail? Imagine, however, that you receive and sign for a package, only to discover it contains illegal drugs. One man, who found himself in this situation, is now facing misdemeanor drug charges.
Appealing a lower court’s decision, the man claims police who arrested him lacked probable cause to do so. According to court documents, a package intended for the address at which the man resides, was intercepted by a United Sates Postal Service worker who believed the package contained drugs.
A police officer posing as a postal worker made a “controlled delivery” of the package to the man’s home. The police officer maintains the man acknowledged the package was intended for him. The man, however, contends the package was addressed to another recipient and that the police officer coerced him into signing for it. He argued he planned to return the unopened package to the post office.
The appellate judge hearing this case remarked that it was one of the first to address questions related to if the acceptance of a package delivered via a “controlled delivery” qualifies as probable cause to arrest the recipient.
In her opinion, the judge maintained probable cause is classified by “some awareness that the package contains contraband” on the recipient’s part. While in this specific instance, law enforcement officials had additional information to tie the man to criminal drug activity, the case is interesting in the potential questions it raises related to a recipient’s liability for the contents of packages delivered via mail.