The Do’s and Don’ts When Arrested with Marijuana
Sometimes people carry weed from one state to another because they found better strains. Despite the wide decriminalization of marijuana, some states just have better cannabis products. For instance, everybody knows that California produces the best medicinal and recreational strains nationally. However, law enforcement officials have very strict and unnecessary rules when it comes to trafficking.
If you’re planning a road trip and intend to carry a sack of that dank, pay attention to the do’s and don’ts when arrested with marijuana.
1. What should I do?
1. Stay Calm
When you have some stash in your car, every cop car in sight gives you the heebie-jeebies. It gets worse when the cop that pulled you over found a couple of joints on the floor or co-driver seat. Police officers know how to intimidate suspects by using stern tones when asking questions. However, your arrest might not be as serious as it the cop makes it seem.
Why should you remain calm during the arrest? Because it helps you maintain your wits and avoid answering questions that might put you in deeper trouble. Anything you say during the arrest might be used against you in a court of law.
2. Produce your Medical Marijuana Card
In California, you can possess at least two ounces of bud if you have a valid medical marijuana card. It doesn’t matter if you got it from a different state. The cop will let you off with a stern warning because it’s illegal to drive with the cannabis kept in plain sight.
In other states such as Florida, medical marijuana patients cannot possess more than an ounce inside the car. However, presenting a valid medical marijuana card might reduce the consequences compared to possession without any medical approval.
3. Ask the officer whether you’re getting arrested
If the officer is still hanging around after obtaining your stash, then you need to know what’s on their mind. You have the right to ask whether you’re free to go. Especially when your stash is less than two ounces because most states treat this as a misdemeanor.
Remember to use a polite tone when asking the officer whether you can go. Do not try to rush him or her by asking, “How long is this gonna take?”
4. Record everything!
Did you know that you have the right to record an officer during an arrest? In fact, even courts of law now regard cellphone videos and audio recordings as valid pieces of evidence. However, police officers threaten suspects against filming arrests in order to exploit one’s ignorance of this important legal right.
If you have a passenger in your car, tell them to get out their phones and film your encounter with the arresting police officer. The cop cannot confiscate your phone if you aren’t tampering with a crime scene or evidence.
2. What are the don’ts?
1. Eat or throw away your stash
Perhaps you’ve watched a movie where a character gobbles up an ounce of green buds when he gets pulled over by the cops. You can’t get into trouble if the officer can’t find the alleged marijuana, right? Well, it’s not always the case. You can actually land in worse trouble if the cop saw you chew down your weed or toss it out of the window.
Doing this mistake changes your offense from a misdemeanor into a felony. The officer will charge you for illegal possession of marijuana and intentionally tampering with evidence. Is this bad? Yes, it is because a felony can attract a five-year jail sentence.
2. Allow the officer to search your car without a valid warrant
Police officers sometimes force their way into searching vehicles without warrants because they know that most citizens don’t know their rights. However, the law clearly states that an officer needs probable cause to search a suspect’s car. Probable cause refers to a heavy smell of cannabis or the presence of roaches and recently used bongs or pipes.
If you weren’t smoking while driving and had your stash locked inside a glove compartment throughout, then you have every right to prevent the officer from searching your car. If they start threatening you, take out your phone and record them.
3. Admitting that you’re guilty during the arrest
During an arrest, a police officer will try to get the suspect to confess to the crime. That’s why anything you say during the arrest and interrogation will most likely be used against you in front of a judge. The only details the officer can’t use against you are your names and city of residence.
How do you deal with this situation? Get a criminal defense attorney fast so that you avoid answering incriminating questions during interrogation at the police station.
If you’ve been arrested with more than two ounces of cannabis and don’t have approval for medical marijuana, two things might happen. If you live in a decriminalized state, you’ll pay a very high fine and have your driving license revoked for a year.
However, if you got arrested in a state where cannabis is still illegal, then you’re most likely to serve time behind bars. It’s this type of pressure that pushes some suspects to hop back inside their cars and floor the gas pedal.
The worst thing to do is to flee from the crime scene. Why? Because doing this creates a probable cause for the arresting officer to search your car. Plus, it increases the number of offenses on your charge sheet because fleeing counts as the resisting arrest.
3. Now you Know!
If you have to travel with an ounce of bud, make sure you put it in your trunk or lock it inside a container then hide it under your seats. Doing this prevents a police officer from searching your vehicle based on a probable cause. However, the most important rule is NEVER smoke cannabis while driving.
During the arrest, it’s best to keep quiet when the cop probes you about where you got the marijuana and when you smoked before driving.
Contact The Fitzpatrick Firm LLC and request a free initial consultation.