Andrew H. Stevenson, Attorney At Law
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Can a Police Officer Search My Car Because He Smells Marijuana?

In Ohio, the smell of Marijuana is probable cause for a search of a vehicle. The Ohio Supreme Court in State v. Moore (2000), 90 Ohio St.3d 47 held that the smell of marijuana alone, by a person qualified to recognize the odor, is sufficient to establish probable cause to search a motor vehicle and the driver. If you are pulled over and an officer indicates that he smells marijuana he has the legal right to search your entire vehicle and you. He may detain you while the search is being conducted.

However, what is not so clear is the officer's right to search the trunk compartment, containers in the trunk, or passengers. In these instances, additional evidence may be needed to establish probable cause to search a trunk, container or passenger. In the event you are charged with a crime due to a search based on the smell of marijuana, it is best to have the facts of your case reviewed by an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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