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I was given a ticket for possession of marijuana. my friend…

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I was given a ticket...
I was given a ticket for possession of marijuana. my friend was driving her car, and i was a passenger. she was pulled over for having a temporary tag. the officer asked me for identification, but i did not supply it. a minute or so later, the door opened and i was ordered out of the car. he started to pat me down and i said whoa wait a second, you don't have the right to search me. he said he was doing it for his own safety. he found my wallet while patting me down and i again said he didn't have permission to search me OR my papers. he pulled my ID and ran my name for warrants. meanwhile, my friend gave permission to search the car to another officer. a joint and a small bag of marijuana were found in the vehicle. they decided to take me in for fingerprints and release me, issuing a ticket for possession. my friend wasn't given any ticket or warning or any kind. i want to defend myself and have this case thrown out, since there is no possible way they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the marijuana was mine. are there motions i could file that would help me, prior to taking it to trial?
Submitted: 5 years ago.Category: Criminal Law
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Answered in 23 minutes by:
11/8/2012
Criminal Lawyer: Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor replied 5 years ago
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 30,474
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Hello Jacustomer,

If the police have what they call an articulable suspicion -- something less than probable cause but more than a hunch -- that gives a reason for a stop, he can pull the car over. That's been true since the US Supreme Court decided Terry v. Ohio in the late 60's. Driving too fast, too slow, too erratically, too aggressively, too tentatively, having a broken tail light, a dirty license plate, too darkly tinted windows, just about anything you can think of can be a predicate for a stop. In this case, the presence of a temporary tag would be sufficient for the stop.

From there he can ask for identification from the driver and the passenger, and even order you both out of the car and do a pat down for his safety. If during the course of all this the officer sees something that indicates that something more is going on, he can then escalate a bit. And even look into the car and take what's in view. What he cannot do is a full-scale search without either a warrant or a warrant exception.

If you walk in expecting your case to be dismissed because you didn't like how the search went down, you are likely to be disappointed. That is not the way our system works. There is a procedure set down by the US Supreme Court for something like this. That means that if you want to go to trial on the case, you would be entitled to a pre trial hearing on the issue of the stop and all that flowed from it to see if your Constitutional rights were violated. The officer will take the stand, tell why he pulled you over, and how it led to your arrest. Your lawyer would get the opportunity to cross examine the officer and show how he violated your rights without probable cause or a warrant.

The standard that the court must use to judge such a hearing is what a reasonable officer would do under the same circumstances. If the judge finds the search unreasonable, your case could be dismissed at that point.

If you're going to go that route, however, make sure you do it through a lawyer. You risk up to a year of jail if the judge is unconvinced and rules for the state and your case goes on to trial. And unfortunately, judges give a great deal of deference to the judgment calls of police who are out in the field. So if the officer has any good and credible excuse for your search, the judge is likely to find the search lawful, and the drugs will come in against you. No pre-trial suppression hearing is ever a slam-dunk for either side, no matter how good the issues may be.

If you are unable to afford an attorney to represent you, ask the court for a public defender. Pro se defendants are held to the same standard as practicing lawyers, and criminal cases have lifetime consequences. Let a professional handle your defense.
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Customer reply replied 5 years ago

i asked if there were any motions i could file to help my case. i clearly stated i would be defending myself, and all of the answers provided were to get a lawyer. not satisfied.

Criminal Lawyer: Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor replied 5 years ago

Hello John,

I did not merely say get a lawyer. I detailed what you'd have to ask for to get your case dismissed on Constitutional grounds and why I thought you would be doing yourself a disservice by representing yourself. I stand by all of that and think that NO criminal defendant should ever be without a lawyer. That's why the Constitution gives you a right to one in the first place.

However, if the judge agrees that you can go pro se (he may not) then you will have to file all motions that any lawyer will file. You will need to file a motion to dismiss the case, if that's what you're going to try to do, you may need to formally request your discovery, and you would be expected to file motions asking for any and all pre-trial hearings that you are entitled to, including a motion to supress the drugs for an illegal search and seizure.

All motions will be expected to conform both legally, procedurally, and and with regard to format, to what an actual attorney would file.

You will need a law library and will have to do a great deal of research. These motions must be substantiated by case law and statute and although you can look at forms they will almost always require additional legal citations to fit your specific facts. Forms are most useful for format. You can find the procedure you will need to become familiar with in the Michigan Code of Criminal Procedure and the forms in this handy guide for Michigan Pro Se lawyers.

Best of luck with your case.

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