Suppression of Fort Wayne Possession of Marijuana Evidence Upheld
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a ruling of the Allen Superior Court to suppress evidence obtained during a marijuana investigation in Fort Wayne. An officer observed the defendant speeding and pursued the defendant’s vehicle until he pulled over. The officer waited for backup to arrive before ordering the defendant and his passenger out of the car. Two officers claimed that they detected the smell of raw marijuana coming from the defendant and his passenger, but did not search them. During the investigation, an officer asserted that he smelled raw marijuana coming from the passenger compartment and found a “small, green, leafy substance” in the cup holders and on the floor. During the search of the defendant’s vehicle the officers discovered and seized marijuana and $7,900.
The defendant was charged with Possession of Marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence that the officer obtained, arguing that there was no probable cause to justify a warrantless search of his car. During a suppression hearing, the Court examined the officer’s qualifications to detect raw marijuana by odor. The officer testified that he inspected raw marijuana at training and had experience handling marijuana in the course of duties as a Fort Wayne police officer. The Allen County Superior Court granted the motion to suppress. The State appealed.
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the Allen County Superior Court’s ruling. The Court found no evidence that demonstrated the officer had any formal training on detecting raw marijuana by odor or showing that the officer, through his experience, had knowledge of its odor or the ability to distinguish its odor from other substances. The Court held that the officer’s qualifications to identify the presence of raw marijuana by odor alone were insufficient to establish probable cause. Thus, the stop was unlawful and all evidence obtained during the marijuana investigation was ordered suppressed.
Article 1, Section 11, of the Indiana Constitution protects the right of people to be secure in their persons, home, and vehicles against unreasonable search and seizure. You should never waive this important right to privacy. If you are charged with possession of marijuana or other controlled substances, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately.
Gibson Law Office attorneys only handle criminal cases. Our Lafayette and Fort Wayne criminal attorneys use appellate case law research to develop strategies to attack criminal charges against our clients. If you are charged with possession of marijuana in Indiana, contact Gibson Law Office for a free initial consultation.