Busted with Marijuana. What to do if you are caught with pot. Say you’re driving down the road and you see flashing blue and red lights behind you. You’re being pulled over, and you have marijuana on you. What do you do?
Busted with Marijuana
This is a situation that many people face daily, and it can quickly turn dangerous or even violent. You do have rights, though, and you can respond in a way that de-escalates the situation and protects your Constitutional rights.
The Smell Test
Police can use the smell of marijuana as probable cause to search you, your belongings, and your vehicle. The most important thing is not to smoke marijuana anywhere near your car, or you run the risk of an officer searching you just because of what they smelled. They can also claim to have smelled marijuana even if your car smells like roses, because this is a claim that absolutely cannot be disproven in court. So if your appearance might give anyone cause to think you might be a “pothead,” just be safe and leave your pot at home.
Don’t consent to any searches.
If you consent to a search, anything the police find can be used as evidence against you. If you don’t consent to a search, it’s up to the officer to prove that the search was Constitutional, and according to Terry v. Ohio, they can only search for weapons. They can’t search you for contraband (i.e. weed) without your consent to the search, and if they do, anything they find cannot be used against you in court.
But be polite.
Police-public tensions are really high at the moment, and the last thing you want to do is put yourself in an unsafe position by escalating the situation. You must remain calm if you are stopped by the police, and you must always be polite. Acknowledge the officer’s position and affirm your rights politely by saying something like, “Sir, I have nothing to hide, and I respect you and appreciate the public service you provide, but I do not consent to a search.” A little kindness goes a long way in getting police to treat you with respect as well. Whatever you do, do not trash talk an officer, as this will simply escalate an already tense situation and may end up with you being arrested or hurt.
When an officer suspects you might have marijuana, he or she might mention it just to gauge your reaction. If you become nervous, this might be an indication to the officer that you have something to hide. Stay calm and don’t become emotional.
Talking too much is a sign of nervousness, which is going to make the officer suspicious of you. He or she will try to keep you talking to get you to say something incriminating which will give probable cause. This is a time for respect and silence, not charm.
Ask if you are free to go.
You cannot be detained without probable cause. Ask this magic question: “Sir, are you detaining me or am I free to go?” If the officer continues to ask you questions, just repeat your question until he or she says you are free to go.
But DON’T run away, and DON’T toss your weed.
Running away is a sign of guilt, and may be probable cause to arrest you. Don’t get busted with marijuana by staying clam. Similarly, don’t try to get rid of your weed. If an officer sees you drop something, 1) it’s out in the open and therefore can be used against you without question of whether the search was constitutional, and 2) it’s practically a declaration of guilt. Just stay calm, be quiet, and continue to ask if you are free to go.
Ask for a lawyer.
When the officer says you are being detained, this means you are under arrest and busted with marijuana. Legally, the officers are required to read you your Miranda rights as soon as you are arrested, but they probably won’t. This is where it helps if you already know your rights. According to the Constitution, you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to a lawyer. As soon as the officer tells you that you are under arrest, say these words: “I choose to remain silent and I want to speak to a lawyer.” Anything you say can – and will – be used against you in court, so do not say anything.
Repeat that you do not consent to a search.
According to Terry v. Ohio, an officer can only search you if they suspect you are carrying a weapon. But if you consent to a search, then they can check pretty much anywhere and for anything.
If you are carrying a weapon, tell the officer.
Concealed carry is legal, and open carry is legal in some states. If you have a concealed carry license and you are carrying a gun, announce it to the officer. Say, “I have a concealed carry license and I am carrying a weapon in my hip holster/in my pocket/in the center console of my car/etc. For your safety and mine, I would like you to remove this weapon from me now.” If you are in your car, say “For your safety and mine, I would like to get out of the car so that you can remove the weapon.” Also specify, “This does not constitute consent for a search, and I do not consent to a search beyond removal of this weapon.” And for goodness sake, don’t keep your weed where you keep your gun or near your driver’s license and insurance in your car!
Know the difference between a pat-down and an unconstitutional search.
Police are allowed to pat you down to check for a weapon. They are not allowed to reach into your pockets or to demand that you turn out your pockets. Allow them to do this and you could get busted with marijuana. They can only reach into your pocket if they feel a weapon through the outside of your clothing, from a pat-down. Do not turn out your pockets for an officer or give permission to search your belongings, even if you are being intimidated. The officer may reach into your pockets or search your stuff anyway, but anything they find will not be able to be used against you in court.
Ask to see a warrant.
Before you give up your rights and get busted with marijiuana, know your rights. You cannot be searched without a warrant, and the officer must have the warrant on his or her person to be able to search you. If an officer tells you that they have a search warrant for you, demand to see it. If they don’t have a warrant to show you, do not consent to the search. This way you won’t busted with marijuana.
Don’t let police in your home.
Just like with your car, your purse, your backpack, and your pockets, police cannot search your home without a warrant. No matter how hard they pound on your door, do not let them unless they can show you a warrant signed by a judge.
What about probable cause?
Police can search you, your car, or your home, if they have probable cause to believe that a crime is being committed. They can claim that they smell marijuana and this is probable cause. If you have drugs or drug paraphernalia out in the open (like on a windowsill, on your porch, or anywhere that someone can see walking down the sidewalk), this is also probable cause for search and seizure. If this happens and they find marijuana in your possession, all you can do is assert your Miranda rights. Refuse to talk and ask for a lawyer. Police can use evidence found in a probable cause search against you in court, but you don’t need to give them anything else they could use against you.
If all else fails, get a good lawyer.
Not all marijuana charges are created equal. A good lawyer, who knows the ins and outs of the drug laws in your state, can get you milder charges or might even be able to get the charges dropped altogether. Search for “controlled substance lawyer (your state)” to find lawyers who specialize in helping out with cases just like this one. Speding some money now so you don’t get busted with marijuana can be a good investment in your future. Think of all the lost income from being labelled a criminal, unable to gain employment.
We hope you enjoyed the article. We must remind you that we do not endorse anyone to act in conflict with their locals and all information is for entertainment purposes only. We do not offer legal advice and you should consult with your laywer before making any decisions.
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