With countless instances of suspicions from police officers leading to arrests unrelated to circumstances, this past week, Judge Daniel P. Dalton of the Whiteside County Court has just ruled that police cannot use the smell of cannabis as the only source of cause to perform warrantless searches of vehicles in Illinois.
The matter involved the defendant, Vincent Molina, and driver Kayla Cervantes, who were pulled over on December 3, 2020 in Whiteside County on I-88 for speeding.
During the traffic stop, after identification from both occupants was obtained, officers stated that they smelled marijuana in the vehicle. During this time, Molina showed the officers his Illinois Medical Marijuana Use Card and the officer began searching the vehicle which subsequently led to Molina’s arrest for misdemeanor possession of 2.6 grams of cannabis.
During the trial, defense attorneys for the Defendants filed a motion to suppress the evidence, saying the cannabis odor could not be used as a basis for police to search vehicles after the recent decriminalization of cannabis.
In this legal matter, the officers used the smell of marijuana to enable a warrantless search on the vehicle where they subsequently did find marijuana, however the Defendant was in lawful possession of a license to use Medical Marijuana.
Associate Judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Daniel J. Dalton, ruled that Molina, "...did not indicate any other reason for his suspicions or his search other than the smell of raw cannabis," and that, "Molina did provide a medical use license to (the trooper) prior to the search of the vehicle." source Link
Also, “there are a number of wholly innocent reasons a person or the vehicle in which they are in may smell of raw cannabis.” Judge Dalton ruled, “the court finds the odor of raw cannabis alone is insufficient to establish probable cause….”
While the State may appeal the decision, this is a legal victory for Illinois residents against warrantless searches, seizures and unnecessary arrests and if this decision stands after appeals, it will be another historic win for the fights of the citizens of Illinois.
If you've been arrested due to an officer smelling marijuana in your car or similar offense, the current ruling could have an enormous impact on your defense.
Contact Zara Law Group if you've been involved with an alcohol or marijuana DUI in Illinois or other marijuana related offense. The DUI and criminal attorneys at Zara Law Group are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending your freedoms. Schedule a free consultation to learn how we're dedicated to you and putting your legal matter in position for the best possible outcome.
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