California resident and victims' rights advocate Henry T. Nicholas III was taken into custody on Aug. 9 after police in Las Vegas allegedly discovered large amounts of illegal drugs in his hotel room. Reports indicate that the 59-year-old entrepreneur and his female companion are both facing drug trafficking charges. Nicholas earned his fortune in the technology sector before championing victims' rights legislation. The laws he advocated for are named after his late sister, a college student who was killed by a former boyfriend in 1983.
According to media reports, Nicholas contacted hotel security when his room key did not work. After gaining admittance to the room, security personnel are said to have discovered an unconscious woman lying on the floor. Nicholas is said to have admitted to the security officers that several canisters scattered about the room and the semi-inflated balloon hanging from the woman's lips were filled with nitrous oxide.
Officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department were called in when security personnel noticed two black cases similar in appearance to containers used to transport weapons. When police looked inside the cases, they are said to have found undisclosed quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and MDMA.
Cases involving serious drug charges often hinge on the admissibility of narcotics discovered during warrantless searches. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may challenge this kind of evidence when police officers may have violated the Fourth Amendment guarantee that Americans will be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects. The U.S. Supreme Court has since ruled that these protections also apply in motel and hotel rooms.
Source: CBS News, "Tech billionaire Henry Nicholas facing drug trafficking counts in Vegas", Associated Press, Aug. 10, 2018
Source: FindLaw, "Stoner v. California", accessed on Aug. 15, 2018