Marijuana Evidence Suppressed after Indiana Court Finds Consent to Search Invalid
Charges of possession of marijuana, dealing in marijuana, and maintaining a common nuisance were dismissed against an Indiana woman after the trial court found her consent to search her home was not freely and voluntarily given. Police went to the woman’s home after receiving a tip that she was growing marijuana. Officers asked if they could enter the home and told her that if she refused they could get a warrant. The woman then consented to a search.
Police entered the home and smelled marijuana. Officers then asked to search the basement, and the woman consented. After discovering a locked door, officers asked the woman to open it and she complied. Police then discovered ten marijuana plants, potting soil, and lights. After completing the search, police asked the woman to sign a “Permit to Search” form. She was the arrested for possession of marijuana, dealing marijuana, and maintaining a common nuisance, all Class D felonies.
The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that her consent to search was not voluntary. The trial court agreed and found that the search violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. The State appealed. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, finding that the woman’s consent to search was illusory and not freely and voluntarily given. The officers’ statement that they could obtain a search warrant if they were not allowed inside led the woman to believe that she had no choice, rendering her consent invalid. The Court was also troubled that police did not present the woman with a “Permit to Search” form until after they had searched her home.
Consent to Search Your Home for Marijuana is Not Valid if Police Mislead You
Many arrests for possession of marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance occur after police obtain consent to search a person’s home or vehicle. However, police cannot obtain consent by making misleading statements. While police are permitted to tell a suspect that they will seek a warrant, they cannot represent that a warrant will be issued.
If you are charged with possession of marijuana or maintaining a common nuisance in Indiana, call Gibson Law Office for a free consultation. If police obtained consent to search your home or car after representing they could get a search warrant, you may have a viable defense. With offices in Lafayette and Fort Wayne, our criminal defense attorneys defend marijuana cases throughout Indiana including in Crawfordsville, Frankfort, Peru, Indianapolis, and Muncie.