Was your car or property searched for marijuana in Arizona?
Ever since medical marijuana was legalized in Arizona in 2010, legislature has been in a frenzy arguing over all sorts of aspects of the program and how it relates to current laws. Many still fight to repeal the medical marijuana act altogether, others argue over what constitutes “impairment” in an Arizona marijuana DUI. Recently the debate over probably cause to search a vehicle or property has been heated, but finally a decision was made in Arizona Supreme Court that may make a huge impact going forward with these types of criminal cases.
Arizona probable cause defense
In Tucson, a criminal defense attorney was defending his client on Arizona marijuana charges. The attorney held that the officer, who searched the storage unit and allegedly found drugs, used the odor of marijuana for cause and proceeded to search the property. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches, an important part of the constitution to protect our privacy and protect us all from unjust treatment by law enforcement. The defense attorney argued that because medical marijuana is now legal, the smell of pot should not and cannot be used a probably cause alone to proceed with a property search.
This case was not as straightforward as it should have been to try to set precedent. The defendant was not a medical marijuana cardholder and was also facing child abuse charges. The Arizona Supreme Court, who issued opinions on the case, made the decision based on the totality of the circumstances. Perhaps if the defendant were a registered medical marijuana cardholder, the attorney would have had more traction with his argument.
What to do if your car was searched in Arizona
Probable cause to search a vehicle or property is a difficult argument to make as a defense attorney. Law enforcement typically has their ducks in a row prior to trial when it comes to the reason they suspected a crime was being committed. Every day our office reviews drug and DUI cases where we must analyze the officer’s reason for pulling a driver over or searching a car or house. Defense attorneys have an important role in the justice system serving as a ‘checks and balances’ for Arizona residents’ rights. If you were pulled over or searched and have reason to doubt the officer’s probable cause, please call me to discuss the matter and find out how to proceed with reducing or dismissing the charges.