What is my liability if I was driving my boyfriend’s car and got pulled and the officer found weed that I didn’t know was there?

I was initially pulled over because the officer thought I was texting and driving (I was getting GPS directions from my phone). After I opened my window to talk to the officer and show him my phone, he asked if I had a medical marijuana card because he could smell weed from the vehicle. I told him “no officer, I don’t know what you’re talking about” and kept denying about it. Eventually he told me to step out of the vehicle so that he could search it. He found the weed inside a shoebox in the backseat and cited me. Should I fight it since it technically was not my vehicle and I did not know about it in the shoebox?

Asked on July 12, 2015 under Criminal Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you should fight it--the court does not know this was not your vehicle or, more importantly shoebox (since even if you borrowed the car, that could easily be your box and weed)--all it will know is what the officer tells you, that you were driving a car with marijuana in it. It could easily conclude that it *was* your weed and sentence you appropriately. You need to put on a defense and show by as much evidence and testimony as you can get that this was not your car or you weed; you'll also most likely need effectively to point the finger at your boyfriend, since the weed belonged to *someone* and if you don't provide a plausible alternative, you version will be less credible (and it's most likely his, of course). You should retain a criminal defense attorney to help you, unless you are willing to take the fall for someone else's (your boyfriend's?) drugs.

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