Monday, August 25, 2008

I Smell Marijuana!

Ah, the smell of marijuana! (Criminal defense lawyers are already laughing at this post, some prosecutors too.)

The smell of marijuana opens many doors to the life of law enforcement. Smell marijuana and open comes doors of homes, stopped are countless vehicles that "smell" of that prohibited substance, and searched are "persons" who upon them have that "smell."

So today went my motion to suppress a traffic stop. Arrest affidavit was pretty simple - my hero is observed with what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette in hand, is seen "inhaling" from it, and then his car is stopped. After the stop, officer smells marijuana and arrests my client, seizing the additional marijuana in the car.

Problem is that's not proper under the Fourth Amendment and applicable case law. Smell of marijuana has to come BEFORE the stop.

Not a problem. Put the officer of 8 whole months on the stand, and today, he says he smelled the marijuana BEFORE the stop. Why wasn't that in his detailed arrest affidavit that he testified included "exactly what happened in the order it happened?"

"I forgot to put it in there." (A gasp is heard from the back of the courtroom.)

During a small break in the hearing I leaned over and asked the prosecutor "you think he's being honest?"

Answer: "That's what he said happened."

Motion denied. Judge had no issue with testimony.

Public defender seen shaking her head.

Another day......

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com