Smell of Marijuana Insufficient for Warrantless Searches
Other states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, but in New Jersey it is still illegal to possess the drug unless you have a prescription for a debilitating medical condition from an authorized program doctor. The smell is very distinctive, and is much different from a cigarette. However it only takes a simple deduction to make you very much aware of what it is.
In a decision by a two-judge Appellate Division on February 25, it was determined that the smell of marijuana alone is insufficient for law enforcement to conduct a warrantless search. This decision overturns a guilty plea of possession, ruling that because the officer began a warrantless search solely on the aroma, the finding of such possession was not admissible.
Constitutional Right against Unlawful Search and Seizures
As citizens of the country, you have a constitutional right against unlawful searches and seizures, and for a warrantless search to be acceptable there must be sufficient circumstances or probable cause. In this case, the defendant’s constitutional right was violated because the police officer’s reasonable suspicion of smelling marijuana was not enough to constitute a warrantless search. It is also notable to mention that the officer was on the other side of an enclosed fence around private property and did not have authority to enter the backyard.
Intrusive conduct by the police can fall into the realm of unconstitutional behavior, but unless you are well aware of your constitutional rights, you may miss possible defenses against a charge received from a search. This case establishes a limit of when law enforcement can conduct a warrantless search, which attempts to limit unconstitutional conduct.
Protect your Rights, Contact an Attorney
If you are facing a charge deriving from a warrantless police search, it may be that the search was conducted unconstitutionally. Seeking an experienced attorney who knows your constitutional rights will help your case. Call me, defense attorney David C. Barry, today at (732) 238-8686. I can determine whether your charge was obtained unlawfully.