Drug Paraphernalia Charge Dismissed
We recently defended a client who had been pulled over by municipal police for tinted windows on his vehicle, a minor traffic violation. However, upon engaging with our client, the officer noticed a smell of raw marijuana emanating from the vehicle. In New Jersey, when an officer notices a scent of marijuana, he can claim the “plain smell” doctrine, providing the requisite reasonable suspicion needed to request that the passenger exit the automobile and request consent to search. After consenting, the officer found a pipe with what he believed to be trace amounts of burnt marijuana within. At court, we were able to cast a reasonable doubt over the State’s case because the officer’s report did not specify whether the pipe was the source of the marijuana smell. Furthermore, it was never submitted to the State lab for testing, and therefore, the State could not prove that the burnt residue was, in fact, marijuana. As a result, our client’s paraphernalia charge was dismissed and he only pled to the tinted window ticket and a municipal ordinance, nominal charges carrying nominal fines.