COVID-19 Notice: We Are Here Fighting For You. Learn More.

Published on:

pills-384846_1280-300x200This week the Maryland State Police arrested two motorists on drug charges after conducting a traffic stop shortly after midnight on Interstate 97.  The stop occurred near the Benfield Boulevard exit in Millersville, which is right by the Anne Arundel County Police headquarters and criminal investigations buildings.  Upon stopping the vehicle for an alleged traffic violation, the trooper discovered that the 32-year-old female occupant from Dundalk in Baltimore County had four outstanding arrest warrants for drug charges.  A search of the vehicle allegedly produced 11 grams of heroin, 42 grams of crack cocaine, 48 Xanax pills, drug paraphernalia and cash.  Both suspects were then arrested on multiple drug charges and booked into the Anne Arundel County detention center.  MSP did not divulge exactly how the officer obtained probable cause to search the vehicle, but based on the circumstances the most likely sources of PC to search were the outstanding warrants for the female suspect’s arrest.  Anyone with an outstanding warrant can be arrested, and then searched incident to that arrest.  In traffic stops the vehicle can also be searched and inventoried pursuant to the arrest.

The 39-year-old male defendant from Pennsylvania was charged with two counts each of misdemeanor drug possession and felony CDS possession with intent to distribute, as well as an additional drug paraphernalia charge.  He was seen by the commissioner and then released on a $15,000 bail.  This defendant appears to have lengthy criminal history, which may create a difficult situation for his defense once this case goes to court.  Judiciary casesearch shows at least three prior convictions for drug felonies in Baltimore County.  When you add in the prior violation of probation the defendant’s guidelines for a PWID narcotic charge would be at least 4-8 years, and that’s factoring in a potential reduction due to the age of the prior cases.  His guidelines could end up being as high as 7-14 years, which is a big number even at the bottom.  The guideline ranges for street level narcotics distribution charges are excessive to say the least, especially when compared to violent offenses such as robbery and assault, but that’s a post for another day.

The female defendant did not fare as well, and is still being held in the detention center.  She was charged with the same counts as her co-defendant plus an additional charge for prescription fraud under Maryland law 5-701, which appears to be related to allegedly removing or altering the label on the bottle of Xanax.  On top of that, she apparently gave either a fake name or fake ID to the trooper in an attempt to avoid being arrested on the warrants, and was subsequently charged with fraudulent personal identification to avoid prosecution under Maryland law 8-301.  Both of these fraud related charges are misdemeanors, but the latter will certainly raise concerns for any judge at bail review.  Possessing fake identification and/or using fake names is an act the state always argues makes the defendant a flight risk.  The defendant was in fact held without bail at her bail review in the Annapolis District Court just this morning.  She must now wait for her attorneys to file a motion to reconsider her bail status at some point in the future, or wait for her case to be transferred to the circuit court where she would be entitled to an additional bail review.

Published on:

hammer-802296__480-300x225In a highly controversial decision at the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville, a judge has ordered an alleged murder’s case to be transferred to juvenile court.  The decision angered family members of the four victims, one of whom had died from gunshot wound injuries.  The defendant was originally charged as an adult with one count of murder in the first degree and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in addition to various assault and firearm offenses for allegedly firing 16 rounds of ammunition into a crowd at a Germantown basketball court.  The defendant, who is considered a respondent now that the case has been transferred, was accused to using a homemade polymer ghost gun to fire the shots.  At the time of the incident he was just 14 years old, and now that the case has been transferred, he could be released from a secure juvenile facility in less than one year.  The judge explained his opinion over the course of 30 minutes, and sided with the defense despite strenuous objection from the Office of the State’s Attorney.

While the families of the victims have every right to be outraged by the decision, the judge was bound to follow the rule of law in Maryland, which has changed drastically in the past year.  Any juvenile who is charged as an adult may petition to transfer the case to juvenile court.  This has become known as a reverse waiver hearing, and the judges are required to weigh five independent factors including age of the child, the child’s physical and mental condition, the child’s amenability to treatment in a juvenile facility or program, the nature of the offense and public safety.  In the past too many judges have focused on the nature of the offense, and if it was especially violent the transfer would be denied in the name of public safety.  Pursuant to what is now known as the Davis case, judges are no longer allowed to make these swift, allegation based decisions.  The Court of Appeals in Davis reiterated that the controlling principal of the justice system is protection of the public, and that a juvenile delinquency program that is most effective at treating, educating and rehabilitating offenders will best protect the public in the long run.  Amenability to treatment has become the determinative factor when considering transfer, and the other four factors ultimately lead up to amenability.  Amenability in this context is best interpreted as whether a child would benefit from a juvenile program.  If the answer is yes, then the case should be transferred regardless of the underlying nature of the charges.

The defendant was originally charged as an adult because Maryland juvenile courts do not have original jurisdiction over individuals 14 and over who are facing charges that carry life in jail.  The first-degree murder and attempted murder charges all carry life in prison, which means the juvenile court did not have original jurisdiction over the defendant.  In most other cases a juvenile must be at least 16 before being charged as an adult, but for life felonies the minimum age is 14.  All defendants who are between 7 and 13 years old will be charged as juveniles, and can only be prosecuted in adult court if their case is waived up at a discretionary waiver hearing.  If your child is facing charges in any Maryland court contact juvenile criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin has successfully argued for the transfer of numerous individuals to juvenile court, including a recent armed robbery case where the individual had already turned 18.  He has represented clients in every county in Maryland and is also an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer who specializes in firearm offenses and white collar crimes such as theft of government property and fraud.  Benjamin is available 7 days a week at 410-207-2598 to discuss the defenses that may be available in your case.

Published on:

pills_money-300x199This week in the Greenbelt federal courthouse a 35-year-old man from Saint Mary’s County pleaded guilty to distribution of fentanyl and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  According to facts presented by the government at plea agreement, three individuals traveled from Calvert County to St. Mary’s County in order to purchase narcotics from the defendant on March 1, 2021.  The three individuals then returned to Calvert County, where two of them ingested the narcotics they had just purchased.  One of the drug users became unresponsive after ingesting the narcotics, and the other two administered Narcan and called 911 after also performing CPR.  First responders were unable to revive the victim, who was pronounced dead on the scene.  Police came to investigate and were unable to recover the rest of the narcotics after they were discarded in the woods by the remaining two individuals.  The medical examiner ultimately concluded the death was caused by fentanyl and alcohol intoxication.

An investigation, which likely included statements made by the two remaining individuals and cell phone data, led police to the defendant in St. Mary’s County.  A search warrant was executed on his Lexington Park address 11 days after the drug deal and subsequent deadly overdose.  Law enforcement recovered a host of contraband including 30 plus grams of a mixture containing fentanyl, heroin and acetaminophen.  They also recovered plastic baggies, cutting agents and a scale that law enforcement would have testified was evidence of drug distribution.  In addition to the drugs and paraphernalia, police also seized a Polymer 9mm “ghost gun” handgun with a 30-round extended magazine loaded with 21 rounds.  Additional magazines and ammunition were seized as well as over $7,000 in cash. The drugs were tested at the crime lab and the gun was test fired by the ATF, and both yielded positive results.  The defendant is a convicted felon after being found guilty of possession with intent to distribute narcotics back in 2020.  He was on probation for that offense and just received a violation of probation sentence of 3.5 years.

Making matters worse for all involved, the man committed these acts while on pre-trial release for another offense out of St. Mary’s County.  It looks like that offense was for accessory after the fact, which carries a punishment that depends on the primary charge but is capped at 5 years.  The exception being that accessory after the fact to first degree murder carries a 10-year maximum penalty.  The defendant was actually wearing his pre-trial release GPS ankle monitor when police showed up to execute the search warrant, which is clearly not a good look for our continued fight to have defendants released pending trial in favor of being held without bail.

Published on:

handcuffs-2102488__480-300x169An assistant basketball coach at the University of Maryland was suspended last month after being charged with prostitution back in October in Prince George’s County.  The suspension is set to be completed this week, which means he could return to the sidelines as early as this Thursday when Iowa visits College Park.  The University announced the suspension on January 12, so the more likely return for the coach would be for this weekend’s road tilt against Purdue.  According to news reports from various outlets including the New York Post and the Baltimore Sun, the 40-year-old coach was arrested at a hotel in Largo after he reached out to an undercover detective posing as a prostitute.  The police posted a fictitious online advertisement under the general category of “women seeking men”, and the coach agreed to meet at a neutral location.  Upon arriving at the hotel, the coach and the undercover were in the room together when he allegedly requested sex in exchange for $80.  As soon as the coach handed over the money, the undercover officer gave an arrest signal to the takedown team waiting in the next room.

The takedown team is typically a group of 2 to 4 officers in uniform or police tactical vests who are monitoring the undercover and the suspect by audio and sometimes video.  While this type of surreptitious recording is typically illegal under Maryland and federal wiretapping laws, there are exceptions for law enforcement to monitor the safety of officers or confidential informants who are conducting investigative activities.  As soon as the arrest signal is given, some or all of the takedown team enters the room and places the suspect under arrest.  From there the police can actually choose to arrest the suspect on the spot, or take his or her information and issue a criminal summons at a later date.  The charge of prostitution under 11-306 carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail, which means an officer is not permitted to issue a criminal citation.  Criminal citations are generally only permitted for crimes that carry a maximum penalty of 90 days or less.  In this particular case the coach was arrested and booked for one count of prostitution general.  He was released by a District Court Commissioner a few hours later on his own recognizance, which is normal a standard misdemeanor solicitation charge.

This type of prostitution sting has been used by law enforcement for roughly the last decade, and while there have been hundreds if not thousands of arrests, it’s hard to measure the overall deterrent effect on the prostitution trade.  It seems that those who wish to seek out prostitutes and those who wish to offer these services will continue to find a way to link up regardless of the threat of arrest.  We expect that this type of law enforcement tactic will continue to be employed even as various websites have been shut down.  While the large majority of defendants arrested for prostitution crimes are simply seeking sex without strings attached, the motivation for law enforcement’s continued efforts to stop prostitution is to ultimately crack down on human trafficking.  The hope is that by eliminating the potential client base you can eventually eliminate the sex trafficking altogether, though the war on drugs has taught us this is more of a law enforcement money grab than a reality-based solution.

Published on:

bullet-408636_640-300x200A 26-year-old Washington D.C. man has been charged with attempted 2nd degree murder and related firearms offenses after shooting at police officers during a foot chase.  The incident began at an Olney indoor swimming center, when employees called the police to report a suspicious individual on the property.  The Maryland National Capital Park Police responded to the scene to investigate, but the suspect had already left the area.  Police officers eventually caught up to the suspect’s vehicle, but he fled when police attempted to initiate a traffic stop.  Park Police officers declined to initiate a high-speed chase, but continued to canvass the area to locate the suspect’s vehicle.  A short time later the suspect’s vehicle was in fact located, though the suspect had fled on foot after his car was involved in an accident.  Police found the suspect in a residential neighborhood within minutes, but before they were able to place him into custody, he allegedly fired one shot at officers in pursuit.  Thankfully, the bullet struck an empty parked car and nobody was injured.  The suspect was then taken into custody and then booked into the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville.  He was charged with attempted 2nd degree murder, first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and use of a firearm in a crime of violence for shooting at the officers.  Additionally, he was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and loaded handgun in vehicle, and is being held without bail.

The defendant was already on probation in Montgomery County after he pleaded guilty to robbery almost two years ago.  This guilty finding is the reason he was prohibited from possessing a firearm.  In that case he was sentenced to 18 months in jail with an additional 6.5 years of suspended time, which will now be on the table when he appears for a violation of probation.  This could explain why the defendant was so motivated to avoid being captured by police.  In reality, his decision to fire at the police officers will likely far outweigh any possible punishment for the violation of probation.  The defendant also has three new additional criminal cases that will also likely take a back seat to the attempted murder.  He has two theft and credit card fraud cases out of Montgomery County, as well as an additional armed robbery case from Prince George’s County for an alleged incident that occurred just three weeks ago.  It is safe to say that the defendant will be held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility until a trial or a plea is scheduled, with the only exception being the potential that he is charged in federal court for his actions.

The Blog will continue to follow this case and may post a follow up article in the future.  It does not seem likely that this case will end up going to trial, as the evidence of guilt appears to be significant.  It may be in the best interest of the defense to attempt to organize some sort of global plea agreement on the shooting case that includes the violation of probation and the new theft charges.  A speedy plea agreement may prevent the matter from being picked up by the feds, though the Prince George’s County armed robbery may prove to be an obstacle.  The defendant’s guidelines will likely end up being either 7-13 years or 10-15 years on the attempted murder, which all things considered could be much worse.  Any plea offer would almost certainly include a charge for felon in possession of a firearm or use of a firearm in a crime of violence.  In shooting cases the state typically requires this charge to assure that the first five years of the sentence are served without the possibility of parole.  Regardless, the defendant would only be eligible for parole after serving at least 50 percent of the sentence, as the charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault are considered crimes of violence.

Published on:

Gun-evidence-box-300x225A 37-year-old man from Baltimore City was recently sentenced to 9 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges.  After serving his sentence, which under federal law does not have the possibility of parole, the defendant will be placed on 3 years of supervised release.  This case is another example of a crime that was originally charged in state court, but eventually picked up and prosecuted by the feds.  There does not appear to be any indication that the defendant was a large-scale dealer or that he had been under investigation by law enforcement, and there were no aggravating factors that made this violation particularly egregious.  On the other hand, the feds have consistently been delivering the message that any felon who possesses a firearm in Baltimore will be subject to federal prosecution, and thus a harsher sentence.  9 years without parole is certainly a harsh sentence for a non-violent offense, but it is hardly a surprising sentence considering the climate in Baltimore right now.

According to the plea agreement the man and several associates were standing on a city sidewalk when a vehicle containing Baltimore Police detectives drove by.  As the BPD patrol unit made a U-turn to approach the group, the defendant apparently walked away from the group in a manner that seemed to indicate he was armed. Police stated the defendant kept his “right arm stiff against his body” as he walked away, which is a common phrase that law enforcement uses when attempting to establish justification for a weapons search.  Detectives then exited their vehicle and began to walk toward the defendant, likely to conduct a pat down for weapons.  The defendant elected not to cooperate with whatever the BPD was attempting to do, and he took off running.  Police stated that the defendant threw a firearm with his right hand while he was running away, and they eventually apprehended him in the area.  Upon placing him under arrest police discovered 42 capsules of heroin, 33 capsules of fentanyl, 29 vials of cocaine and several baggies of marijuana.  They also eventually found the handgun along with an extended magazine that was discarded during the chase.

This case presents an interesting issue regarding the legality of so-called proactive police patrolling in urban areas.  Clearly the officers were not specifically looking for the defendant, and there is no indication they received a tip that the individuals on the sidewalk were armed.  Rather, the police were acting on their own suspicions when they made the decision to approach the defendant.  Had the defendant remained where he was or simply walked away from law enforcement, there may have been an argument that any detention was illegal.  An illegal detention would have triggered a potential motion to suppress the gun and the CDS found on the defendant, but the fact that he fled effectively ended any realistic constitutional challenges to the police conduct.  The law is very clear that a person is not seized by law enforcement if he or she takes off running upon their approach.  Additionally, a person does not have any constitutional standing to challenge the seizure of items that are thrown away or abandoned by a suspect.  Running from police is not illegal by itself, but as soon as this defendant was observed throwing a gun and a magazine there was probable cause to arrest him.  Only then could police lawfully detain the man and search him incident to arrest.  This case played out like many have in the past, and unfortunately there was not much the defense could do but argue for a lower sentence.

Published on:

baltimore-217620__480-300x199The Baltimore City State’s Attorney was indicted last week by a federal grand jury on two counts of mortgage fraud and two counts of perjury, and will now be forced to see the criminal justice system from the opposite side for the time being.  The indictment comes just a few months before the primary election, which in Baltimore City decides who will sit as acting State’s Attorney for the next four years.  The City’s top prosecutor has shown no signs of stepping down and through her attorney has vigorously denied the allegations.  Anyone looking for a quick resolution to this matter may be in luck, as the defense is attempting to move the case along as quickly as possible.  Numerous Baltimore City public officials have been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office over the past decade, including two mayors, dozens of police and correctional officers and other local politicians.  This particular case was investigated by the FBI and the criminal investigations unit of the IRS, and while the allegations certainly seem serious, a conviction for any criminal activity is far from a foregone conclusion.

The city prosecutor has been under investigation since at least spring of 2021, though the details released back in March only informed the public that a federal grand jury subpoenaed her campaign and bank records.  It is unclear at this point whether this indictment ended that investigation, or whether the feds are waiting to present additional charges to a grand jury.  The indictment accuses the prosecutor of perjury by lying on an application and unlawfully withdrawing funds from a Deferred Compensation Plan designed to help those who had experienced financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.  Federal prosecutors pointed out that the prosecutor did not experience financial hardship, and that her salary as State’s Attorney actually increased during the pandemic.  The prosecutor’s lawyers responded to these claims stating that she sustained financial losses to businesses unrelated to her public position.  In other words, her salary increased, but she suffered enough losses in her other business ventures to justify applying for the pandemic aid.

The mortgage fraud charges are slightly more complicated, and are related to two homes the prosecutor and her husband purchased in Florida.  The feds are arguing that when applying for mortgages she failed to disclose a lien that was placed on a property belonging to her husband as a result of $45k in overdue taxes.  There is another allegation that the prosecutor made a false assertion on a mortgage application.  The government is alleging she failed to disclose an agreement with a vacation home management company in order to secure a lower rate.  Defense lawyers for the prosecutor have asserted the prosecutor did not knowingly omit the tax lien, and that the notices sent by the IRS were not received.

Published on:

913166_atm-154x300Baltimore County Police recently arrested a 34-year-old man for attempting to steal an ATM from a bank in Owings Mills.  According to reports, police responded to the bank around 3:30 in the morning for a burglary in progress.  Officers found a truck backed up to the bank with chains wrapped around the ATM, and a suspect who immediately fled upon police arriving.  The suspect was apprehended after a short chase through the woods, and subsequently charged with multiple crimes including felony second-degree burglary and felony theft.  He also faces charges for malicious destruction of property and misdemeanor fourth-degree burglary.  The defendant was denied bail by a District Court judge and remains incarcerated at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson.  He does not currently have a trial date, as the case will likely be indicted in the circuit court prior to the January 28th preliminary hearing.  This arrest created additional headlines because it turns out that the defendant was actually a Baltimore City Department of Public Works employee.  The truck used in the burglary is also owned by the city, and was recently reported stolen in Carroll County.  The front license plate and city’s emblem on the vehicle were concealed with tape during the attempted burglary, but clearly the secret is out.

It appears that the defendant may also be facing a probation violation in the near future for a case out of Baltimore City, which could have contributed to him being held without bail.  In 2014 he was found guilty of armed robbery and use of a firearm in a crime of violence, and sentenced to 20 years with 10 suspended.  Following his release from the division of corrections he was placed on 5 years of probation.  A defendant serving a 10-year sentence for a violent offense typically serves 5 to 7 years before being released.  Since the offense occurred in September of 2012, he was probably released from prison in 2018, which means his probation is likely still active.  As of today, there is no information on Maryland judiciary case search that states a violation of probation warrant was issued, though Baltimore City is notorious for not updating their cases promptly.

The Blog will follow this case as it travels through the county court system, and may post a follow-up article in the future.  The defendant faces up to 15 years in prison for the  second-degree burglary charge, while the felony theft charges carries up to 5 years in jail.  He also faces up to 3 years each for fourth-degree burglary and malicious destruction of property over $1,000.  There were some questions raised as to how a person currently on active probation for armed robbery was hired by the city, but our hope is that those with criminal convictions will always have job opportunities upon their release, as stable employment is a key factor in reducing recidivism.  The Blog will also continue to follow theft and burglaries involving ATMs, as there has been a string of these cases lately in Maryland.  This past week in Baltimore City four defendants backed a van into a building, loaded the ATM and fled the scene.  The building in this case was severely damaged, and suspects are yet to be identified.

Published on:

handcuffs-2102488__480-300x169The Frederick Police Department recently announced the arrest of a 20-year-old man in connection with a shooting at a local fast-food restaurant.  According to the department’s press release the suspect and a female began fighting inside the restaurant when another male attempted to intervene to break up the fight.  The suspect then shot the man multiple times, and he ended up succumbing to his injuries while still on scene.  The cause of death was ruled a homicide, and police filed charges for 1st and 2nd degree murder, as well as assault and various firearms charges later that night.  An arrest warrant was issued soon thereafter and police ultimately located and arrested the suspect.  Police are still gathering information, and the investigation is still considered active.  This means other suspects could potentially be charged in connection with the shooting, and/or the presence of the firearm.  The 20-year-old now faces a maximum penalty of life in prison for his actions, and could potentially face life in prison without the possibility of parole if the State elects to pursue this enhanced punishment.  Under Maryland law anyone convicted of first-degree murder faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.  There is also a 5-year mandatory prison sentence for anyone convicted of firearm use in a crime of violence, which is another charge the defendant is facing.

The defendant was brought before a District Court judge the day after his arrest, and as expected was denied bail or pre-trial release.  He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for the end of January, but the charges will almost certainly be filed in the Circuit Court for Frederick County before the preliminary takes place.  Based on a records check the defendant does not appear to have any prior adult criminal record in Maryland.  Juvenile cases are sealed from public view, so it is unclear whether the defendant has a history of violence or weapon possession.  As of this year, cases involving juveniles who are charged in adult court are also sealed from public view, though their case files may be available to view at the Clerk’s office.  Anyone over the age of 16 who is accused of a crime of violence such as robbery, attempted murder or first-degree assault will be charged as an adult in Maryland, as the juvenile courts do not have original jurisdiction over these cases.  Firearm offenses committed by juveniles 16 and over also must be tried in adult court pending a transfer request.

The Blog will continue to follow this tragic story and may post a follow up article in the future.  Frederick County has a relatively low rate of violent crime and especially homicide.  Over the past decade the murder rate has fluctuated between 1 and 5 per 100,000 of the population, which is typically on par with neighboring Montgomery County, but substantially lower than Prince George’s County, Baltimore County and of course Baltimore City.  Montgomery County recently recorded its highest number of murders ever, as a 35th case was recorded shortly before the year’s end.  If you or a loved one has been charged or is being investigated for murder, attempted murder, assault and any type of firearm offense call Maryland gun lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin specializes in offenses such as assault in the first degree, manslaughter, attempted murder and use of a firearm in a crime of violence.  He has defended clients in every jurisdiction in the state of Maryland including Frederick, Montgomery County and Baltimore.  He is also an experienced Eastern Shore criminal lawyer who has successfully defended clients in Wicomico, Worchester, Talbot and Dorchester Counties.  Call Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598.
Published on:

weed4-300x194The 2022 Maryland legislative session is still a few weeks away from commencing, but there is already a proposed bill on the books.  House Bill 1 was pre-filed last week by a state delegate from Baltimore City, who is also the chairman of the state’s cannabis workgroup that was formed over the summer.  The text of the bill was made available to the public on December 22 but will not officially be introduced in Annapolis until January 12, 2022.  The bill basically directs the General Assembly to create law governing the legal use of cannabis for all adults over age over 21 as long as it passes in the next general election.  This means voters will ultimately decide whether marijuana becomes legal in November of 2022.  The question on the ballot will be short and sweet, and read “Do you favor the legalization of adult-use cannabis in the State of Maryland”.  As regular readers are aware, cannabis legalization has consistently been supported by the majority of Maryland residents according to scientific polling.  The most recent polling conducted by Goucher College in Towson has support for legalization over 60 percent, which is well beyond the possible margin of error.  If the voters act as Goucher predicts it looks like we’ll have recreational marijuana for sale in Maryland as early as July of 2023.

In order for this pre-filed bill to make it to become law and end up on the ballot in November it would have to be approved by at least three fifths of the total members of the House and Senate.  In reality there will likely be at least four fifths or 80 plus percent of lawmakers supporting the proposed referendum when it’s all said and done.  The legislature will then get busy creating rules for use, distribution, possession, regulation and taxation of cannabis within the state.  Two of the main issues regarding cannabis legalization (at least in the eyes of lawmakers) are determining where the tax revenue will go and addressing the impacts to law enforcement and the rest of the criminal justice system.  Some lawmakers have expressed concerns over the possibility of increased cases of impaired driving, and the inability of police to determine impairment, though law enforcement officers are already trained to recognize impairment from other substances besides alcohol.  Additionally, the standardized roadside exercises created by the NHTSA are not only designed for alcohol use.

The real drastic change for law enforcement after marijuana is legalized will be with probable cause determination to search upon stopping a vehicle.  Police will no longer be able to search a vehicle based on the smell of cannabis once it’s legalized for recreational use.  While possession of small amounts of pot are no longer criminal, it is still considered contraband for those of us without medical marijuana cards.  Contraband means  illegal regardless of whether there are criminal or civil punishments.  There will be exceptions to his rule of course, as drivers (and potentially passengers) under the age of 21 would likely still be subject to automobile searches by police.  Possession of marijuana by an individual under 21 will probably a similar civil infraction to possession of alcohol by a minor, but both are still illegal and require a court appearance.

Contact Information