When Police Smell Marijuana
Can police search your vehicle if they say they smell marijuana coming from inside? Yes, they can, and they often do. Hi, my name’s Dale Savage, and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, South Carolina, and today we’re going to talk about vehicle searches when police smell of marijuana.
Don’t Consent to a Search
The typical scenario where this comes up is following a traffic stop for some minor driving infraction, such as speeding or failing to use your turn signal. As the officer approaches your vehicle and asks you for your license, proof of insurance, and registration, they may turn around during that conversation and say something like they smell marijuana coming from inside. If they do do this and ask for permission to search your vehicle, you should absolutely say no. The reason why you want to do that is to protect any legal challenges you have later on that may be available in court. If you give them permission, then they don’t even need to assert that legal basis, such as the smell of marijuana, to get inside your vehicle.
Probable Cause to Search
Now, if you do deny them consent to search and they search that vehicle anyway, they can do that based on probable cause. And what that basically means is that there’s some evidence of criminal activity and that you’re involved in it, and the smell of marijuana is what justifies that warrantless search for them. What that means is the police can not only search inside the entire passenger compartment of the vehicle, they can also search the trunk. They can even search under the hood. And it also means that police can not only look for evidence of marijuana. If they see evidence of other crimes, such as firearms or other narcotics, such as meth, cocaine, crack, heroin, anything else, they’re not required to turn a blind eye to that and they can bring other charges for those crimes that they’ve discovered during that search as well.
Can Police Say You Had Possession?
Now, what is really important in these types of scenarios is who you are within that vehicle? If there’s more than one person in that vehicle, meaning if there’s a driver, passenger, maybe even passengers in the back, depending on who you are in there, you have certain rights and challenges that can be made. The most difficult person to assert any challenges there would be the driver. However, there are certain options available to them as well. So what you need to do is, if you’ve been charged with an offense like this, contact an attorney so they can evaluate the facts of the case and assert any legal defenses that you may have and try to get the evidence suppressed and if successful, get the case dismissed.
Charleston, SC Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’d like to learn more and what legal defenses may be available to you call a Charleston Criminal Defense Attorney at 843-530-7813. Thanks for watching, and I hope this helps.