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Billionaire victims' rights activist facing felony drug charges

Victims' advocacy groups in Tennessee and around the country may be saddened to learn that Henry T. Nicholas III was taken into custody by police in Nevada on the evening of Aug. 7. The 59-year-old technology billionaire has been charged with drug trafficking after quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, MDMA and methamphetamine were allegedly discovered in his Las Vegas hotel room. Nicholas has been a tireless campaigner for crime victims and was instrumental in getting Marsy's laws passed in five states. The laws are named after his sister, who was stalked and murdered by her former boyfriend in 1983.

According to media accounts, Nicholas called hotel security when he returned to his room but was unable to enter it. Security personnel are said to have contacted police after opening the door to discover an unconscious woman lying on the ground with a semi-inflated balloon hanging from her mouth. Reports indicate that the woman has also been charged.

Nicholas is said to have admitted to the security personnel that the balloon and a number of canisters in the hotel room contained nitrous oxide. Police say that they discovered the drugs in two black cases that had aroused the interest of the security officers because they looked like weapons containers.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys would likely advise individuals charged with drug trafficking to remain silent even when the evidence against them appears overwhelming. These cases usually hinge on the admissibility of drugs discovered during police searches, but this kind of evidence is not always admissible. Police must generally obtain warrants before searching a suspect's residence or vehicle, and the Supreme Court has ruled that these protections also apply to hotel or motel rooms.

Source: CBS News, "Broadcom Founder Billionaire Busted in Las Vegas ... For Room Stocked with Drugs", Associated Press, Aug. 10, 2018

Source: TMZ, "Henry Nicholas, Broadcom founder, tech billionaire facing drug trafficking counts in Vegas", Aug. 9, 2018

Source: FindLaw, "Stoner v. California", accessed on Aug. 14, 2018

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