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New marijuana law could protect people from vehicle searches

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Drug Crimes |

In Illinois, when people are arrested, the evidence is obviously a critical part of whether they will be convicted or acquitted. As they craft a defense, they might think about their situation and if there is a rational explanation for what they have been accused of doing. There are other strategies that can be effective as part of a legal defense. Calling into question the justification for the law enforcement investigation is one way to combat a criminal case.

The line of legality regarding marijuana has been somewhat confusing as more and more states are legalizing it. For those under the impression that since Illinois legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2020, they were no longer under threat of arrest for allegations related to it, they can be sorely mistaken.

One reason why people might be arrested comes from a search after law enforcement smelled marijuana in an automobile. Recently, state lawmakers began taking steps to change that law. For this and other potential catalysts for an arrest, it is wise to be aware of how people can be protected from overzealous law enforcement, question the evidence and reach a positive result without a conviction.

Law would stop police from searching vehicles due to marijuana smell

A recent proposal would protect people from a vehicle search if a law enforcement officer simply smells marijuana. The law had required people to keep marijuana in an odor-proof container. Now, that would change if this law goes into effect.

Because marijuana is legal and people can therefore transport it, an officer smelling it is not enough to show that a crime was committed. Officers will continue to have the right to conduct a search if they believe a driver is under the influence or there is smoke emanating from the vehicle indicating it is being used at the time.

Drivers still cannot operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. The Illinois State Senate passed the legislation and it will go back to the State House of Representatives where it will be analyzed further.

People should not simply accept law enforcement claims justifying searches

Any criminal allegation can cause significant problems in a person’s life. As with the new bill that would stop law enforcement officers from searching vehicles based solely on smelling marijuana, it is imperative to be aware of the pretext for which officers can make traffic stops, conduct searches and make arrests.

To effectively analyze a case and have a viable strategy for a defense, it is useful to have comprehensive help from those who are not only experienced in defending against criminal charges, but know how prosecutors go about preparing a case. Discussing the situation with those who have done both can be beneficial to the outcome.

These types of traffic stops can happen to anyone. Even though there is set to be a law that prevents officers from making stops and conducting searches based on detecting the aroma of marijuana, this is just one issue that may be used to allow a stop and an investigation that came about in violation of a person’s rights.

Contacting a former prosecutor who fights for a person’s rights can make a major difference in reducing charges, having them dropped or getting an acquittal if the case ends up at trial. Often, those who are charged have no history with the police or being arrested. They can be nervous and fearful. This might lead to mistakes and admissions just to curry favor and hope the case will go away. Unfortunately, this only makes things worse. For drug crimes or any other criminal charge, having assistance is key from the outset to try and achieve a good result.