Is the smell of marijuana probable cause to search a vehicle?

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Is the smell of marijuana probable cause to search a vehicle?

Defendant is stopped for a headlight violation and steps out of car to approach police cruiser with valid license in hand. Officer then asks to see vehicle registration. Defendant walks back to car, opens door, and reaches into glove compartment to get title. With door open, defendant drops registration right under open door. Officer picks up document but now smells marijuana as his head is in the open car door. Officer then searches the car finding 10 tin foil packets of marijuana in the glove box. On what grounds can the evidence be suppressed?

Asked on November 17, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Assuming marijuana is illegal in your state (California allows it in certain circumstances) and a law enforcement officer smells marijuana coming from your vehicle after you were stopped because of a headlight violation, there is probable cause to search your vehicle as a result.

Marijuana presumably is a controlled substance in your state. Given the fact that law enforcement smelled an illegal substance coming from your car. there was a basis to search it and whatever found is the legal result of the search. I suggest that you retain a criminal defense attorney for your situation.


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