What I tell marijuana defendants

Every cannabis defendant I meet gets a few self defense tips at our consultation. Until we legalize cannabis cops are going to arrest for it. Regardless of the life altering consequences, or if the defendant is a good person, or if you “help” the police by being honest the full weight of the criminal justice system will be brought to bear on otherwise law abiding Texans.

The punishment for simple possession in Texas is up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. While most are sentenced to probation that isn’t good enough for me. No one should be arrested or put through the probation gulag for possessing a plant. Until things change, cannabis consumers owe it to themselves to exercise caution to avoid LEO’s wrath.

Once you have a possession arrest on your record things only get worse. Now, every time LEO pulls you over and runs your license he will think you are riding dirty. Cannabis consumers of America, be ever vigilante. Don’t count on your cop being “cool” and letting you go. Instead, be proactive and protect yourself from our state’s stupid pot laws.

Here is what I tell my marijuana clients-
1. If possible move to California or any state that practices cannabis sanity. If you can’t, then try to quit smoking weed until it is legalized. If those don’t work then…

2. Don’t let your car stink like weed. Our appellate courts have made “the odor of burnt marijuana” into probable cause to search a vehicle. Unless you want LEO digging through your console keep things smelling fresh.

2. Don’t answer questions that will incriminate you. When you are pulled over in Texas you only have to ID yourself and provide insurance. If you don’t have a good answer to “Are there any drugs in the car?”, then don’t give one. Asking for a lawyer is a good default answer to questions that could incriminate you. Trust me. It makes the cops crazy pissed, but they aren’t going to help you anyway.

3. NEVER EVER EVER EVER CONSENT TO A SEARCH. I’ve covered this a few times already, but the police only ask to search because they have already profiled you as a criminal and they don’t have probable cause. If the police ask to search say no, and then ask for an attorney.

“But the police said they would search anyway, or call out the drug dog!”- That’s fine. If the police want to violate your constitutional rights then let them. That’s where I come in. If a search is illegal, and the judge agrees, the evidence must be suppressed.

Most people consent believing they can avoid the short term problem of getting arrested if the cop doesn’t find anything. If you are pulled over think long term, not short term.

The end result of an illegal search is that you get arrested. Getting arrested is not the worst thing that can happen to you. The probation/drug court/piss test/fine/court costs/NA nonsense is much worse. Put on your big boy pants and accept you are going to jail. You will be allright. It’s much worse to get convicted, than get arrested.

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2 responses to “What I tell marijuana defendants”

  1. May I add?

    Only crack your window to pass your license and insurance papers through. There’s no requirement to do more.

    If asked to step out, make sure windows are rolled up, step out and close the door and lock it. The less access the better, so they can’t start poking their heads in open doors and windows and looking or sniffing.

    If they do the “We’ll bring the dog if you don’t let me search” fine. Make a point of noting the time, and as you wait keep asking “Am I free to go?” Check your watch frequently. They can only push the detention so long and if they know you can testify to exactly how long you were held up, they know a good lawyer could potentially use that.

    If asked anything like “Where you headed?” “Why do you care if I search if you have nothing?” or the like, aside from “I don’t want to answer any questions without an attorney” another good response is a polite, “I don’t discuss personal matters with strangers and I don’t let them into my property unless they have a compelling or legal justification.”

    If you’re being recorded — you probably are — make sure your tone and body language are polite but firm for the camera and audio.

    Not legal advice, but I know some elements a lawyer might use if cause, description of your demeanor and such are fudged in the report.

  2. Michael in LH says:

    Another tip: Don’t let them search even if you are not carrying. Someone may have left something behind, the cop may accidentally drop some evidence from a previous stop, there may be seeds or stems in the carpet – there is no telling what they may find. I don’t smoke but I will not allow a search simply because it is my right not to allow it and because I do not trust someone who is trying to make their quota.

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