Ok, I was pulled over in north GA for a tag light out, as the officer approached my car he he said "I pulled you over because you have a tag light out" he then asked me if he could search my car. He quickly explained that he liked to pull people over whether the were doing anything or not and see if he could have a look around. I told him I was not comfortable with him searching my car as it was trashed, to which he replied "I can bring out the dog if I need to(he was a k-9 officer). Now I will say I was wrong to have a beer open that had spilled in my floorboard. The officer changed the subject to where I was going etc. I began to tell him, and halfway through my explanation, when the officer asked why he smelled beer. I told him about the beer(of which I had taken literally two sips of, I even asked three times for a breathalyzer test. As I got to the back of the car, a secend officer put me up against my car and informed me he was going to check me for weapons, he patted me down and began going through my pockets. He pulled out a collapseable pipe that was smaller then a lighter, wasnt weapon shaped or even by feel identafiable as even a pipe. The k-9 officer held it up and said " now im going to search your car, if you are honest with me and tell meabout anything you have maybe ill go easy on you. So rather then let him rip my car apart, I told him there was about a gram of weed in the drivers door. I was cuffed, strip searched at the jail, and stuck in the drunktank with no bedding for 3 hours starting atmidnight. Now ive read lots of conflicting things online, most say they cant reach in your pocket unless they feel a weapon, and I also read that they cant use illegally gained evidence to get other evidence. I feel I screwed myself telling him, I dont smoke in my car for just this reason, and had I not been in the middle of moving wouldnt have even had the stuff on me. Im 34 with no priors, is there any way to avoid a charge for possession? Did they toe the legal line? I get sick at my stomache every time I think about how I was treated for a few sips of a beer . I mean its a small town, and I had a flat billed NY yankee hat on, but I wasnt doing anything to warrent searching etc. is there anything I can do? Or, if not, whats your advice?
3 Answers from Attorneys
If you want to possess and use illegal drugs, and play lawyer and try to read things on the internet for a "gotcha" that will magically get you out of serious charges, it usually won't go well. People with drug charges who take it seriously get good criminal lawyers immediately.
Given that you had an open container of alcohol and marijuana in the car, and drug paraphenalia in your pocket, you have a serious case. You could go to prison and you could carry a criminal record for life. You should already have hired criminal counsel.
The law as to search and seizure is complex and you could read about it for years and not fully learn it. You may have defenses, some of which you will likely lose if they are not properly asserted.
This is a time to turn off the computer, open your checkbook, and hire the best attorney you can afford. He's going to be very important to the outcome of your case.
You created all of this drama. You had marijuana in the vehicle, pipe in your pocket and drinking beer (oh, sorry sipping) in the vehicle, and now you want to play vicitm. As long as the tag light is out, the officer can legally stop you. Once he stops you, the officer can legally inquire about a search. The law allows for pretextual stops. The offier can ask you to step out of the vehicle, and can pat you down for his safety. Once the officer feels a weapon or drug paraphanalia (plain feel law), he can reach into your pocket and pull the item out. While you maintain that it is not easy to discern that it is a pipe, the officer at the motion to suppress will testify that as soon as he felt it he knew it was a pipe. If the pipe had any residue, then the officer has power to arrest you, and search the vehicle. You told him where the marijuana was. So, that is the end of the story. Now you choose whether to retain an attorney or not, because you cannot argue the motion, because you do not know what you are doing. See website for info on retaining the right attorney: http://www.lawrencelewispc.com/pages.php?go=pinfo&PID=38. Good luck.
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