Is Marijuana Grounds For a Legal Police Stop in Florida?

Written by:Julian Stroleny PortraitJulian Stroleny

In order to legally conduct a traffic stop in Florida, an officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe that a criminal offense has occurred. This is a long-standing legal precedent that protects citizens from being stopped without cause. (Case law does allow for randomized traffic stops, such as the DUI checkpoints that have become common throughout the country.) While these legal precedents are clear, their application to marijuana is less certain.

For years, the smell of marijuana was sufficient reasonable suspicion, because its possession was illegal. But now that many Floridians hold medical marijuana cards and can legally possess the substance, how can it still be grounds for a lawful stop? New and complicated legal matters require the attention of an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Stroleny Law: Criminal Defense Attorney, our experienced Miami marijuana lawyer can protect your constitutional rights and help prevent wrongful convictions. Call (305) 615-1285 for a free phone consultation as soon as possible.

The Legal Battle to Prevent Marijuana Stops

One defendant in Miami-Dade is fighting to challenge this long-standing legal precedent. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Victor Chavez was stopped by police in 2018, and his vehicle had the odor of marijuana. Police used this odor as probable cause to search his vehicle for evidence of marijuana crimes. Marijuana was found, and charges were filed against Chavez. His attorney decided to take a risky legal strategy – they argued that, because the possession of medical marijuana is legal, odor alone is not probable cause of a crime.

This argument has been made in various forms in several different cases throughout Florida. The particular facts of Chavez’s case, however, make it difficult for him to advance this theory. Chavez did not hold a medical marijuana card, and the marijuana was not in a form that is allowed by state medical marijuana laws. It also did not comply with a statutory packing requirement and exceeded the amount that could legally be prescribed by a doctor. These facts do not bode well for Chavez. However, the legality of a search is not determined by what is ultimately found. It is determined by what evidence officers had when they initiated the search. If the judge is able to separate the officers’ findings from the limited evidence they had at the time of the search, it is possible that Chavez’s defense could succeed.

Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Attorney for All Marijuana Charges

Marijuana law is evolving at a fast pace. It is important to fight marijuana convictions with the advice of an attorney who understands this developing area of the law. The experienced Miami drug crime lawyer at Stroleny Law: Criminal Defense Attorney can help protect you from wrongful convictions. He can challenge existing law and raise new defenses made possible by changes to the law – such as the legalization of medical marijuana. Call (305) 615-1285 for a free phone consultation or contact us online as soon as possible. Don’t delay – the sooner you have an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting for you, the better protected your legal rights will be.

Stroleny Law: Criminal Defense Attorney handles a variety of criminal law cases, so call now if you have any questions.

View more contact information here: Miami Marijuana Lawyer.

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