Many people mistakenly believe that if a police officer smells marijuana coming from their vehicle, it’s game over and time to plead guilty.
The recent case of Smith v. Florida, ___ SO.2d____, 37 Fla.L.Wkly.D970a (Fla. th DCA 2012) shows why this assumption is wrong. In Smith, the officer “detected the odor of marijuana” and observed a partially smoked joint in the ashtray. A later search by the office found cocaine in the vehicle. Significantly, however, the court found the officer did not have any reasonable suspicion to approach the vehicle in the first place. When the officer activated his blue light before approaching the vehicle, the court held Mr. Smith was effectively seized and therefore, a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity was required before the officer approached the vehicle. All evidence was suppressed. It is important not to waive your constitutional right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure by pleading guilty before your attorney can analyze this issue.