Can New York Police Officers Arrest for Drug Sale Without Actually Seeing the Drugs ?

In People v. Jones, 90 NY2d 835, 683 N.E.2d 14, 660 N.Y.S.2d 549 (1997), an officer experienced in narcotics transactions saw the defendant talking with an unidentified woman in an area noted for drug activity. He saw the woman hand the defendant money in exchange for an object the officer could not see. Defendant then walked to a nearby construction site, took a plastic bag from his person and secreted it in a cement block. On these facts, the Court held that the officer was justified in believing he had just witnessed a drug sale despite the officer being unable to identify the objects actually exchanged. The Court held that a combination of factors supported the inference that the officer had just witnessed a drug sale, and thus provided him with probable cause to arrest.