Currently, eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. Other states—including Illinois–have made medical marijuana legal if it is prescribed by a medical doctor for specified conditions. In Illinois, however, it is still against the law for anyone else to purchase, use, or carry marijuana. There is a lot of misinformation regarding cannabis and the laws which govern its use. Below are three of the most popular myths regarding marijuana laws.
1. Police Must Identify Themselves
Television and the big screen have perpetuated several myths about police and marijuana. One of these misconceptions is that if a person asks an undercover police officer if he is indeed law enforcement, that the office must admit to his identity. This trope is often used in so-called “stoner movies” in which the main characters use marijuana heavily, but it is simply not true. A police officer has the authority to pretend to be someone else in order to catch and prevent criminal activity. In sting operations or investigations, police may pose as drug dealers or other criminals in order to bring offenders to justice.
2. Police Need a Warrant to Search Your Car Even If the Officer Smells Marijuana
Citizens are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, however, motor vehicles are treated differently than homes. The “automobile exception” refers to the rule that police officers do not always need a search warrant to search a person’s car. Police must have probable cause to search a car, which can include things they see, hear, or smell. In 1985, the Illinois Supreme Court first authorized a police search of a suspect’s car if the officer claimed to be able to smell marijuana in the car.
3. Suspects Not Read Their Miranda Rights Are Free to Go
The Miranda Warnings are a series of statements that many fans of crime TV shows may have memorized. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.” Although television and movies make it seem that every individual is read these rights immediately upon being arrested, this is often not the case.
Police are only required to read an arrested individual their Miranda rights and offer them access to an attorney being interrogated. If you are arrested on marijuana charges, the evidence found in your possession may be enough to warrant prosecution without the need for further interrogation. Even if the officer never reminded you of your Miranda rights, your charges are likely to stand anyway.
Facing Drug Charges?
While low-level possession of marijuana is no longer a crime in Illinois, possession of larger amounts can result in felony charges. If you are facing charges related to drug possession or sale, a Joliet drug and narcotics criminal defense attorney will protect your rights and help you understand your legal options. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba for help building an aggressive defense strategy. Call 815-740-4025 and schedule a free consultation today.