As someone who defends lots of controlled substance and marijuana cases I am always looking at police procedure related to the detention and search of defendants.

Many of these interactions between law enforcement and citizens come from call-ins for a “suspicious vehicle.” The call comes from a concerned citizen who sees a vehicle parked in front of a house or at a city park. The police investigate and usually end up detaining and searching the occupants.

The question is…can the police do this? Well, the answer is…sometimes. Police need reasonable suspicion to detain you. They need specific facts indicating criminal activity is occurring. Frequently a call-in alone is not enough.

I recently won a suppression hearing where I argued this very issue. Someone called in a car at a gas station and told 911 that a suspicious vehicle was parked at the store and gave a description of the vehicle. The caller said he believed “drug activity” was occurring.

The officer showed up and detained two men in the parking lot even though the car did not match the description of the vehicle in the call-in. These men were detained and the car was searched. A misdemeanor amount of marijuana was found and both were arrested.

At the suppression hearing I successfully argued the officer had no indication these men were committing a crime, and being in a car at night at a gas station was in no way reasonable suspicion justifying a detention and search. The judge agreed and the prosecutor had to dismiss the case.

A good defense attorney can assert your rights and protect you from overzealous detention and searches. If you think your rights have been violated contact the Law Offices of Lance Turnbow.