Drug Attorney Weighs In On Your Rights
The law allows the police to search your car when the odor of marijuana is present. The courts give the police much deference based on their training and experience to be able to positively identify marijuana solely on its odor. Ironically, a recent court decision in Pinellas County found that the officer’s supposed investigative nose and sense of smell were incredibly flawed. None of the four other officers on the scene mentioned the smell of marijuana and, at the conclusion of the search, no marijuana was found inside the vehicle.
Allowing the search of this vehicle based solely on the odor of marijuana is just one example of how easily it is for police to overstep the law and justify searching a vehicle. This example is just one of many that I have heard as a criminal defense and drug attorney. The biggest problem attorneys face with this factual circumstance is how do you show or prove that the officer did not smell marijuana. Fortunately, in this particular case before Judge Andrews, the other officers testified truthfully and created a clear contradiction in the evidence presented to the court. But more often than not, officers do not contradict one another on such a crucial piece of evidence.
In the end, the judge must make a decision on whether or not the search of a vehicle was legal based on the testimony and evidence presented during a motion to suppress. The judge must weigh the evidence in the ‘light most favorable to the State,’ which means they will almost always rule for the State of Florida, unless evidence is presented that casts doubt on the credibility of a state witness or the evidence presented. Typically, the evidence must be clear-cut for a judge to rule against the State of Florida under a factual situation. as presented in the previously mentioned case.
With the potential legalization of marijuana, one benefit I foresee is you will have less police intrusion and questionable searches of your vehicles. Why this fine line is so often walked with law enforcement is unclear. A solid and clean investigation will end with a conviction every time, but a questionable investigation only creates more questions—questions that any experienced drug attorney will quickly unearth.
If your car was searched and you were charged with possession or another crime, give our office a call for a free consultation with an experienced drug attorney.