First offense: Pulled over and arrested for Possession of Marijuana(3-4 grams) in Miami, FL

UPDATED: Jul 4, 2009

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First offense: Pulled over and arrested for Possession of Marijuana(3-4 grams) in Miami, FL

Never really gotten into any trouble with the law before. Made a stupid decision and had 3-4 grams of Marijuana on me and i got pulled over for “speeding”. The officer said i smelled like smoke and had me get out of the car. He put me in cuffs in his car and spent 2 hours searching my car. When i asked him what he “clocked” me at he said “i didn’t i “paced” you”. I have a radar detector, i saw the cop before he even saw me. I was doing 5mph over the speed limit. He gave me a speeding ticket for doing 15mph over.Is it possible to try and get the case dismissed due to the wrongful ticket?

Asked on July 4, 2009 under Criminal Law, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Your instincts are good here.  If the ticket is thrown out than the officer arguably had no right to search the car.  If, however, the stop was in good faith the search may have been valid; although you still may be able to get out of the speeding ticket itself.  The more pressing issue here is the search.  Warrantless searches are permitted by police only if the car’s passenger compartment is within reach of the suspect or there is probable cause to believe evidence will be found of the crime that led to the arrest.  If either the stop was illegal or the search than their is no evidence that can be used against you. 

So as to the stop, the question becomes can you in fact get the ticket thrown out?  Whether you were going 5 or 15 miles per hour over the limit you were still speeding.  However it's interesting that he "paced you" instead of using his radar detector.

As to the search, you were not arrested for DUI, you were stopped for speeding.   Unless police had probable cause to believe the vehicle contained evidence of the "crime" of speeding, the police would have needed a warrant to search your vehicle.  Here's a summary of a recent Supreme Court case on point:  Additionally, it could be argued that the car’s passenger compartment was within your reach but that wouldn't necessarily justify a 2 hour search after you were already in cuffs.  A lot will depend on where he found the marijuana; for example was it in "plain view". 

The best for thing for you to do here is to contact an attorney in the area where all of this happened.   They will know the courts and just how best to defend against this in their particular jurisdiction.  And make sure that they specialize in criminal law or DUI cases; you want someone well versed in all of the legal techniclaities involved here. 

Best of luck.

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