Tampa Search and Seizure Lawyers

Is it legal for the police to search my car if they smell marijuana? Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog Series Part 1 of 2

Have you ever wondered, “What is legally permitted in traffic stop search?” This question often causes confusion. Do the police have the right to conduct a search of someone’s vehicle without their consent if they smell marijuana?

As expert Tampa Search and Seizure lawyers, we know that Florida case law indicates, yes. The precedent on Florida search and seizure was set in a 2002 Supreme Court of Florida case ruling of State v. Betz.

According to the case facts, in 1998, the Clearwater Police because of a faulty headlight stopped Betz, the defendant. He immediately exited the car after being pulled over and closed the door quickly behind him.

The Clearwater Police officer said he noted both smoke and the smell of marijuana coming from the car’s window, which was rolled down. After this observing the billowing smoke from the vehicle, one of the officers searched Betz and found a bag of marijuana on his person. At this point, Betz was placed under arrest.

Subsequently police officer conducted a search of Betz’s trunk. It was here the officer found hidden in a metal box stored inside a briefcase another bag of marijuana.

Ultimately, Betz was charged with felony possession of marijuana. His criminal attorney tried, unsuccessfully, to have both bags of marijuana excluded from evidence, based on the grounds the police that secured the bags of marijuana via illegal search.

Betz was found guilty. However, the criminal attorney appealed the verdict to the Second District Court of Appeal, which affirmed in part and reversed in part. This case then was appealed again and arguments were heard before the Supreme Court of Florida.

We will learn more about the State v. Betz case and further explore the question, “Is it legal for the police to search my car if they smell marijuana?” our next drug crime lawyer blog post.

Are charged with a drug crime? Drug possession? Drug trafficking? Or Drug Manufacturing? Your freedom is at stake! So, please consider contacting an experienced legal professional as soon as possible as your freedom and your future are at stake. Contact Tampa Search and Seizure Lawyers or call the offices of de la Grana | Boardman, (813) 248-0704.

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