In State of Florida vs. C.S., (case number 2014 MM 2304), the Defendant initially believed that her life had been ruined by an arrest in St. Lucie County, Florida for possessing cannabis.
It was a pleasant enough day in South Florida (for July, that is), when C.S. was traveling
northbound on I-95 for a weekend at Disney World with her husband. Because they planned to leave one of the vehicles in Orlando for a relative; they took two (2) vehicles.
They did not know they had to traverse St. Lucie County on the short journey from Broward County to Orlando.
St. Lucie County, where cannabis is still considered a “gateway” drug, and mere possession of the weed will get you a year of probation, thousands of dollars in fines and costs, and maybe ever some jail time.
St. Lucie County, which was way ahead of its time when it came to ignoring the dictates of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
But I digress.
As C.S. continued northbound on the Interstate, traveling well within the speed limit, she had to swerve to attempt to avoid hitting a turtle that had meandered onto the highway. Little did she know that also traveling northbound, behind her, was one of St. Lucie County’s finest—in fact, a member of the S.I.U. (Special Investigations Unit) interdiction team, where he had worked for years.
The Deputy “lit up” C.S., who promptly decelerated and pulled her car to the side of the roadway, for what the Deputy described as “following too close”.
“Backup” law enforcement immediately followed, and one of the deputies claimed to smell the odor of the ‘raw’ smell of marijuana emanating from the car. (Note: this scenario seems to occur with increasing frequency, as Cannabis is more broadly accepted throughout the United States for palleative and recreational purposes——that ‘scenario’ being that vehicles pulled for minor traffic infractions, seem to emanate the odor of raw marijuana—–whether any such weed is in the car OR NOT).
Using the ‘alleged’ smell of the marijuana as justification, or “ probable cause” to search the interior of C.S.’s car, a minute amount of cannabis was found, wrapped in plastic, and enclosed in the center console.
Nice olfactory senses, Deputy.
C.S., though having no prior record of any kind, was arrested and formally charged with misdemeanor possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Paraphernalia (an equally serious crime) BECAUSE OF THE BAG in which the marijuana was contained).
C.S. retained JJK/LLC, who promptly filed a Motion to Suppress based upon the obviously bogus “following too close” rationale for stopping the vehicle.
What the Deputy was unaware of, was that C.S.’s husband was in the car directly in front of the vehicle she was driving——by approximately 7- 8 car lengths……so the claim of following too close was merely an excuse to stop the car in the first place.
At the hearing on the Motion, the trial Court granted the Motion to Suppress.
On October 28, 2014, the State of Florida filed it’s “Nolle Prosequi” [DISMISSAL] of both charges, thus ending C.S.’s personal little St. Lucie County nightmare.