In October of 2011 one of my clients was arrested in Carson County and charged with the offense of possession of marijuana. She was a passenger in a pickup belonging to and being driven by her boyfriend. The trooper stopped the pickup for speeding and following too closely. According to the trooper, he smelled a strong odor of burnt marijuana when he made contact with the occupants of the vehicle. He also noted in his report that the driver also smelled like burnt marijuana.
The trooper asked the driver to step out of the pickup and go back to the patrol car. While in the patrol car, the trooper told the driver he could smell marijuana in the pickup and then asked the driver if he had been smoking marijuana. The driver admitted he had a small baggie of marijuana in the pickup. The trooper asked the driver if he could search the pickup and the driver denied consent to search.
The trooper then went to the passenger side of the pickup and began to question my client about the purpose of the trip. She told the trooper they had visited her family in Montana. This was the same story the driver told the trooper. My client’s family confirmed this story. The officer then asked my client to step out of the pickup and he began a probable cause search of the pickup. [The trooper had probable to search the vehicle because he smelled burnt marijuana in the vehicle.]
During the course of the search, the trooper found approximately twelve pounds of marijuana in a box in the bed of the pickup. The pickup bed was covered with a locked topper. Both the driver and my client were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. At this time, my client told the trooper she had hidden the small baggie of marijuana in her bra.
The State dismissed the charges against my client in April of this year.
Factors favorable to my client were: (1) she did not have a criminal history and (2) her boyfriend took responsibility for having the marijuana in the back of his pickup. He also stated that my client did not know it was there. One factor that was challenging for the State was the absence of evidence linking my client to the marijuana found in the box located in the pickup bed.