Marijuana laws are changing across the country, but in the state of Texas, marijuana is still only legal for medical use to those with intractable epilepsy.
Recreational marijuana use is still a drug crime that is taken very seriously, and law enforcement has been known to overstep boundaries while searching for evidence. Is the smell of marijuana probable cause for a search in Texas? The answer depends on a few factors, the main one being your location at the time of the search.
It is important to know your rights and to always speak with an experienced Houston drug crimes attorney any time you have been arrested in relation to a drug crime.
Probable Cause in Texas
The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution states that a certain amount of evidence must exist before law enforcement can search or seize property as well as make an arrest or charge. Generally, the officer must reasonably believe:
- The crime was committed by the person to be searched or arrested.
- The crime was committed at the location to be searched.
- Evidence related to a crime exists in the location to be searched.
When it comes to your home, a warrant must usually be obtained in order to search it with probable cause. However, the 4th Amendment does not offer the same protection to citizens in vehicles. It can be argued that a vehicle can flee before a warrant can be obtained, so this part of the process can be skipped.
Marijuana and Probable Cause
While the general attitude towards it is changing in the eyes of the law in many states, it is still a crime to possess marijuana in Texas. If an officer has probable cause to believe a crime is being committed, he has legal justification for certain actions, such as searching a vehicle or making an arrest.
When you are in your vehicle, the smell of marijuana alone can give officers sufficient probable cause for a search. The smell does not have to be extremely potent or fresh, and a warrant does not need to be obtained.
Usually, the vehicle is first stopped for another reason, such as running a stop sign or speeding. When the driver rolls down their window to speak to an officer and the officer smells marijuana, they have the right to search the vehicle.
In the home, the smell of marijuana is still enough for probable cause, but a warrant must usually be obtained prior to the police being able to conduct a search or arrest. Still, law enforcement will sometimes overstep boundaries in the process as they search for evidence. Speaking to a knowledgeable Houston marijuana attorney after you, your vehicle or your home is searched can help you determine whether or not law enforcement had the legal right to do so.
Aggressive Possession of Marijuana Drug Crime Attorney
Drug crimes are punished seriously in Texas, but Lisa Shapiro Strauss Attorney at Law offers aggressive representation for clients charged with a drug crime. She is also dedicated to protecting her clients and ensuring the actions the system takes against them are done legally. With the help of an experienced drug crimes lawyer, it is possible to get a more favorable outcome in your case.
For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call 713-449-9922 today. We look forward to helping you!