Probable Cause to Search a Vehicle Based on Marijuana Odor in Kansas & Missouri


Is Probable Cause Needed to Search a Car in Kansas or Missouri?

Probable cause is defined as a reasonable belief that a person has committed or is going to commit a crime. In order for probable cause to exist, an officer must have enough information to warrant a belief that a suspect is committing a crime. There must be more than just mere suspicion to satisfy the probable cause requirements. The test used by Kansas and Missouri courts to determine whether probable cause has been satisfied is whether an objective person of reasonable intelligence would believe that the circumstances indicate that the person arrested or detained has committed a crime.

There are a variety of sources for probable cause and an officer may use any combination of these sources in order to meet the probable cause requirement. The following are the most common ways an officer can establish probable cause:

  • Information: This includes statements by witnesses, victims, and informants
  • Observation: This includes information gathered by an officer's inspection or examination
  • Circumstantial Evidence: This is considered to be indirect evidence that makes something more or less probable
  • Expertise: An officer can rely on his or her personal experience and background to evaluate whether criminal activity is likely to occur or has occurred
  • Consent: An officer can rely on an individual's consent to a search
  • Sensory: Here, if the officer detects evidence of a crime through sight, hearing, or smell, the probable cause requirement has been met.

Probable Cause to Search a Vehicle in Kansas and Missouri

Generally, a search warrant is required in order for an officer to search, seize, or arrest. However, there is a significant exception when it comes to vehicles. An officer is permitted to search a vehicle without a warrant in certain situations. This means that officers may search a vehicle without a warrant, but they do need probable cause.

As noted above, officers can rely on their senses to establish probable cause. Therefore, if an officer smells marijuana coming from a vehicle, he or she may search the car without a warrant. Any evidence of marijuana found in the vehicle is considered evidence and can be admitted against you at trial.

Problems arise when officers claim to smell marijuana when they in reality, do not. This is unlawful police procedure and any evidence obtained in this manner should be suppressed and cannot be held against you.

Should You Contact an Attorney?

If you have been arrested in Kansas or Missouri and are now facing charges based on a warrantless search, take a moment to contact a local and experienced defense attorney in your area.

Unfortunately, officers do not always follow the law and may violate police procedure. When this happens, it is important to work with a skilled attorney who works in your area in order to receive the best possible representation and ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Do not assume that you have to plead guilty because you were arrested. Take a moment to contact the McLane Law Firm. Mr. McLane works with clients in both Missouri and Kansas and understands how difficult criminal charges can be on both you and your family.

McLane Law Firm

Matt McLane has been defending individuals charged with DUI, traffic and criminal offenses since his graduation from Washburn University Law School in 1996. Licensed in the states of Kansas and Missouri. Mr. McLane specializes in DUI and criminal defense throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area.

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