Can The Police Search Your Car If They Smell Marijuana?
When on the roads, navigating the complex laws can be tricky. Whether officers were justified in pulling you over, to begin with, sometimes being pulled over can lead to some less-than-friendly interactions with the officer on the scene. And, what happens when they allegedly smelled marijuana in the car? If you’re looking for an attorney with experience in marijuana defense, the lawyers at Piotrowski Law are here to ensure you get the representation you need.
Can the Police Search Your Car?
By Florida law, a police officer is justified in searching a vehicle should he smell a particular odor. In this case, if an officer can smell marijuana, they are allowed by law to search the vehicle. This has been supported by case law and confirmed by the Supreme Court of Florida in State v. Betz, 815 So. 2d 627 (Fla. 2002). With that in mind, it’s important to understand that when you are in a traffic stop, an odor can be used as grounds to search the vehicle. However, what they find and how the search is conducted can be questioned in a court of law.
Is the Cause for Searching Justified?
One of the first things you’ll want to do after an officer searches your vehicle and finds cause for arrest is consult with an experienced defense attorney. Assuming marijuana was recovered at the scene, it can be difficult to defend against the claim that an odor was present at the time of arrest. However, what if no marijuana was recovered, but they did find other drugs and are charging you with possession of those?
Defending Against Unreasonable Searches
While a search may be justified by probable cause due to the smell of marijuana, that doesn’t mean every instance of such a search is reasonable. For instance, in those cases where marijuana is not found in the vehicle, you may have grounds to fight the search as unreasonable. Variables such as whether there were passengers in the car who can support that there was no odor, or even whether the arresting officer was there alone or had backup to support his claim.
In these instances, you may be able to assert that the officer simply used an alleged odor as an excuse to search the vehicle.
Trusting Experienced South Florida Attorneys
Whether or not the search was warranted under Florida law, it’s important you have an attorney on your side who will examine the case up-close. This way, your rights are put first and no potential defense is overlooked during the process. Rather than accept the officer’s word, you want a lawyer who will ensure procedure was followed properly.
With experience in narcotics cases and high-level drug trafficking cases, the attorneys at Piotrowski Law understand that prosecutors can often treat possession of marijuana harshly. As a result, we work to represent your legal rights to ensure the details of your case aren’t overlooked. If you need defense against an overzealous officer who may have overstepped his bounds, call us today at (305) 204-5000 to find out how we can help protect your rights.