Personal possession of marijuana – illegal searches and seizures

Opinions in blog posts are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of 1.800.NoCuffs and The Kavinoky Law Firm.

Personal possession of marijuana – illegal searches and seizures

Possession of marijuana for personal use may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California, depending on the circumstances under which the drug was discovered. While the penalties for this offense aren’t as severe as possessing marijuana for sale, they can still be serious, which is why an individual accused of this offense should contact a criminal attorney who understands this area of the law and all of the defenses that are applicable to it.

An illegal search and/or seizure will be one of the most useful defenses if properly argued and proven, as Constitutional violations can result in the exclusion of incriminating evidence and a dismissal of one’s criminal charges. Because this defense requires a thorough understanding of both California and federal laws, only a skilled criminal defense lawyer should attempt to present this type of evidence.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual against unreasonable searches and seizures of his or her person or property. This law prohibits unreasonable invasions of privacy, which basically means that police must have a warrant before conducting a search and that police must have probable cause to believe that an individual either possesses something illegal or is involved in illegal activity before stopping that person. It must be noted that a “search” doesn’t technically take place unless the individual being searched had a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. For example, if the police saw a marijuana cigarette coming out of someone’s pocket, that wouldn’t qualify as a search. A search would take place, however, if the police had to look inside that person’s bedroom dresser to find that same cigarette. Because a “search” didn’t take place in the first scenario, a warrant would be unnecessary.

Most personal possession of marijuana cases involve an arrest and evidence that resulted from a search and seizure. When the police suspect that an individual possesses marijuana, a search may involve an inspection of that individual, his or her surroundings and/or his or her property in order to locate all of the drugs. If found, a seizure refers to the confiscation of the marijuana and/or to taking the individual possessing the marijuana into custody. Generally speaking, if the seizure is invalid it is because it was preceded by an invalid search.

Both persons and property may legitimately be searched and seized by the police (either with or without a warrant), as long as circumstances justified the officers actions. If, however, law enforcement act without reasonable or “probable cause” or exceed their Constitutional limitations, their searches and seizures may be declared invalid and any evidence that they subsequently retrieved will be excluded from one’s case. An experienced California drug crime defense attorney will meticulously review a client’s file to see if the arresting law enforcement agency violated his or her client’s Constitutional rights in any way.

The outstanding attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm have mastered the laws (both state and federal) that are relevant to California drug offenses. When examining a personal possession case, they know how to immediately spot an illegal search and/or seizure and how to effectively convey this type of defense to the judge and jury. They are dedicated to protecting the rights of their clients and will aggressively pursue acquittals when they believe that illegal searches and/or seizures have taken place and where acquittals aren’t possible, they know the most effective arguments to convince a judge to impose alternative sentencing that will permit their client’s convicted of possessing marijuana for personal use to receive treatment instead of a jail sentence. For questions about illegal searches and seizures or the many other defenses that are applicable to a possession charge, contact The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation and for unsurpassed legal representation.