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NFL Player Santonio Holmes' Marijuana Case May Depend on Validity of Traffic Stop

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on April 30, 2009 9:03 AM

Santonio Holmes of the Pittsburgh Steelers was arraigned yesterday on a misdemeanor marijuana charge stemming from an incident in October of last year, reports the AP. The Superbowl MVP was represented at the hearing by his attorney, Robert DelGreco Jr., who indicated that he will be filing a motion to suppress evidence challenging the constitutionality of the traffic stop. If the motion were to be successful, it could make the drug evidence found during the traffic stop inadmissible in court against Holmes (quite possibly killing the prosecution's case).

Although, only sparse facts were provided in the story, it appears that the constitutional challenge may hinge on whether police had a valid reason to pull over Santonio Holmes and conduct a traffic stop. The story noted that "Pittsburgh police said they found three marijuana-filled cigars in Holmes' car when he was pulled over Oct. 23. Holmes was stopped because his car was similar to one they were looking for in a drug sting." It was thereafter that a cooperative (perhaps exceedingly so) Holmes reportedly "alerted officers to the drugs". Inquiries into the constitutionality of traffic stops are very fact-intensive and if a mistake by police is involved (such as misidentifying a car), the issue might depend on the reasonableness of the mistake.

For anyone wondering about on-field consequences, Holmes was already suspended for one game by Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin. Holmes has also had a few run-ins with the law previously , actually telling the media at one point that he had dealt drugs in the past. He also has had domestic violence charges brought against him (and dropped), and also was arrested for disorderly conduct in 2006 (charges also dropped there).

Holmes has since said he has "learned a lot" from his suspension for the traffic stop, but it remains to be seen if this case will bear any legal penalties for him.

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