Greensboro Criminal Defense Lawyer: When Police Stop You, and Marijuana is Involved, What Rights Do You Have?
Unfortunately, and traditionally, in North Carolina, if an officer stops your vehicle and smells an odor of marijuana, that gives the officer free reign to search the vehicle. State v. Armstrong, 236 N.C. App. 130 (2014), State v. Greenwood, 301 N.C. 705 (1981); & State v. Smith, 192 N.C. App. 690 (2008).
But, if there are multiple occupants, the equation shifts. If there is more than one occupant, and the smell does not follow the second occupant, the police may not search that occupant. State v. Malunda, 230 N.C. App. 355 (2013).
And if the odor cannot be localized to an occupant, none of the occupants can be searched. State v. Pigford, __ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __, 2016 WL 4087356 (N.C. Ct. App. Aug 2, 2016)
Undecided (there is no case on point) is whether, if there is an odor of marijuana in the vehicle in a single-occupant vehicle, and the odor stays with the driver after exit, does that give PC to search the vehicle. Frankly, North Carolina’s police-friendly appeals and supreme court decisions point to the fact that, likely, the police have PC to search, but that issue has not been litigated at this time.
Contact our Greensboro criminal defense attorneys, who operate in Greensboro, High Point and Randolph County for a free consultation today.