When Police Smell Marijuana
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 a little bit more about police searches based on the smell of marijuana.
Don’t Consent to a Search
The typical scenario where this comes up is based on a traffic stop for some minor traffic 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 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 cannot only just 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 up charges for those crimes that they’ve discovered during that search process, as well.
Can Police Say You Had Possession?
Now, what is really important in these types of scenarios is who are you 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 certain challenges that may be made. The most difficult one to assert any challenges there would be the driver. However, there are certain options available to them, as well. And 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 then assert any defenses that you may have and try to get this evidence suppressed and get the case dismissed against you.
Charleston, SC Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’d like to learn more about this type of scenario and what your defenses are in this type of case, please give me a call at 843-530-7813. Thanks for watching, and I hope this helps.