Richards Carrington defense attorneys have secured dismissal of felony Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Sell or Distribute Marijuana charges in a case that raises serious questions about the ability of law enforcement in Colorado to continue using drug-sniffing dogs to obtain probable cause for warrantless drug searches.
The case involved two marijuana tourists who were observed by police officers placing a bag in their trunk that appeared to be from a local cannabis dispensary. Officers subsequently performed a pretextual traffic stop and summoned a drug dog who predictably alerted to the smell of marijuana inside the vehicle. The police then searched the trunk of the vehicle, found several pounds of marijuana and arrested the men on felony charges for possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute.
Richards Carrington lawyers examined the circumstances of the arrest and identified a key legal question regarding the circumstances that led up to the search and seizure. The problem: drug-sniffing dogs are trained to alert to a range of substances, including cocaine, meth, opioids and marijuana. Since marijuana is now legal in Colorado, Richards Carrington attorney Drew Eddy prepared a legal challenge, arguing that police in Colorado now need more than a dog alert to conduct a warrantless search of a vehicle.
After additional legal research uncovered a nearly identical case in which the Colorado Court of Appeals had considered the argument and agreed that such a warrantless search was improper, the Richards Carrington team brought their concerns to prosecutors and were able to obtain dismissal of all charges.