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-   -   Put your drugs in an envelope (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=91437)

snopes 09 March 2015 04:56 PM

Put your drugs in an envelope
 
Comment: If you ever get pulled over with Pot in the car you should hide
it in a stamped envelope. It is illegal for police to search your mail

--------------------------------

Comment: if you have weed in a stamped sealed envelope can police open it
without a search warrant? Also I heard that they cannot open if it is from
the government or your lawyer. is that the same if it is addressed to your
lawyer?

snopes 09 March 2015 04:57 PM

I'm guessing that even if police could not open such an envelope on the spot, they could impound it and/or detain you until:

a) They brought in drug-sniffing dogs to examine the envelope.

b) They obtained a search warrant to open the envelope.

And then you'd possibly be facing a federal charge of shipping controlled substances through the mail in addition to simple possession.

Cervus 09 March 2015 05:27 PM

"It's from my lawyer" isn't a great defense, either, especially if you wish to retain said lawyer.

Lainie 09 March 2015 05:33 PM

Quote:

if you have weed in a stamped sealed envelope can police open it
without a search warrant?
:rolleyes: If they don't have a search warrant, you don't have to let them search your house or car at all.

Alarm 09 March 2015 05:35 PM

And are you supposed to be carrying stamped and pre-addressed enveloppes, just in case the cops stop you?

And won't the cops become just a might suspicious if, just as soon as you're pulled over, you start stuffing stuff into an enveloppe, then licking to seal it?

erwins 09 March 2015 06:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lainie (Post 1864302)
:rolleyes: If they don't have a search warrant, you don't have to let them search your house or car at all.

Cars have a few exceptions to the warrant requirement. You don't have to give permission, but police may be able to search for certain things, or for certain purposes, without a warrant anyway. (Just jumping off from here--not directed at Lainie specifically).

First, if the driver of the car is being arrested, there is an exception for the inside of the car that allows a search "incident to arrest" for weapons, contraband, and evidence of the crime of arrest if applicable.

Then there's the mobile vehicle exception that allows a search for evidence of the crime for which the person is being arrested elsewhere in the car, like in the trunk or the bed of a truck. If the crime at issue is one where evidence of it could be found in an envelope, police could open the envelope.

Finally, there's an inventory of a vehicle that is being impounded. If the vehicle is to be impounded (required for certain violations or crimes, and sometimes necessary if the vehicle isn't in a safe parking place when the driver is arrested and no other driver is readily available), then police will inventory the contents. I think a bulky envelope would be opened in order to ascertain whether it contained valuables.

Also, in the course of any legal interaction with the car or its contents, the plain view and related "plain smell" doctrines would come into play. If an officer is inventorying "one sealed envelope" and they can clearly smell that it contains marijuana, then they would have probable cause to seize it and open it. There's nothing magical about envelopes that would prevent that.

On the other hand, all of this may be starting to be a non-issue with marijuana if other states start to follow suit with decriminalizing or legalizing it. Here in Oregon even before legalization, it was only a crime to possess more than an ounce of marijuana, or to be trafficking. It was only a violation to possess less than an ounce. So while it was still illegal, if caught you just got a ticket. Now it will be legal, starting this summer. (Though it is still illegal under federal law everywhere in the country).

A Turtle Named Mack 09 March 2015 07:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by snopes (Post 1864291)
And then you'd possibly be facing a federal charge of shipping controlled substances through the mail in addition to simple possession.

Not for it being in an envelope, but not placed in the mail.

But an alternative occurs to me. If your handy envelope is pre-addressed to you and already post-marked as if it was delivered, then you could say "I really have no idea what is in this envelope - someone mailed it to me and I have not had a chance to open it yet."

Darth Credence 29 July 2015 02:31 PM

That seems like a lot of work for something that could be more easily accomplished by leaving your weed at home.

jimmy101_again 29 July 2015 03:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lainie (Post 1864302)
:rolleyes: If they don't have a search warrant, you don't have to let them search your house or car at all.

:rolleyes: :lol:

Dr. Dave 29 July 2015 03:47 PM

:confused: (since we are communicating by emoji)

So Lainie was mistaken about the car part in some circumstances, but is it really necessary to mock her? Let alone for something she wrote four and a half months ago? That was corrected/explained respectfully by a lawyer four and a half months ago?

Lainie 29 July 2015 04:23 PM

Everybody needs a hobby. :lol:

zerocool 29 July 2015 04:36 PM

I don't know what jimmy101_again was intending, but I took the eye roll and laughter as a sarcastic take on actually being able to refuse a search.

The last time an officer pulled me over (for going 2 mph over in a 70 zone - he gave me warning?) he asked if he could search my car. I said no. He crinkled up his nose, said, 'I smell Marijuana, step out of the vehicle', and proceeded to search everything in it while I stood outside in the snow in a t-shirt. I thought that was weird since the last time I'd even seen marijuana was at least a decade before, and as far as I know my car and everything in it has never been exposed to marijuana.

A Turtle Named Mack 29 July 2015 05:24 PM

zerocool, I hope you at least filed a complaint with the police department, if not pursuing it even further. From what you say, the 'I smell marijuana' was a clearly false pretext for a search, which means the whole thing from the point of your refusal was illegal.

Dr. Dave 29 July 2015 06:17 PM

we're going in another direction here, and I agree with you in principle, but I have a question for our legal experts:

In practical terms, how likely is a citizen to successfully complain against a trumped up "clear smell" claim? Unless a particular officer has an inordinate number of stops in which he searches for MJ smell and finds none, or a disproportionate number of such cases for stops people of a certain race or ethnicity, it seems like it would be his word against yours.

A Turtle Named Mack 29 July 2015 06:25 PM

To a certain extent that is true. There are also ways for police to cover their tracks beyond that. But creating a track record can help to identify and nail a bad apple - if a department gets a bunch of reports of this ploy, they are going to put a stop to it, if only because those reports are discoverable and will undermine the credibility of the officer when he has to testify. Also, if there is some form of corroboration of a total lack of MJ smell at that time, it is no longer a 1-on-1 swearing contest. Of course, a lot is fact dependent.

GenYus234 29 July 2015 07:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dr. Dave (Post 1881554)
In practical terms, how likely is a citizen to successfully complain against a trumped up "clear smell" claim? Unless a particular officer has an inordinate number of stops in which he searches for MJ smell and finds none, or a disproportionate number of such cases for stops people of a certain race or ethnicity, it seems like it would be his word against yours.

IANALE, but I'm bored, so I'll jump in anyway. Generally, issues like that are discussed if the officer were to find something else illegal during the search and charges were filed against you for that something else.

Unless that particular officer is repeatedly doing that to you, there is pretty much no chance that you'll be able to successfully pursue any kind of remedy. Your complaint will probably be filed (round or not) and nothing will happen. Like ATNM said, it might be useful to someone else down the road.

RealityChuck 29 July 2015 07:44 PM

The cops are not allowed to search your mail if it's in the possession of the postal service. Otherwise, why not just put drugs in an envelope (with postage) and be home free?

They certainly can't take mail from your mailbox without a warrant (since it's legally still under the care of the postal service -- you don't own the space inside your mailbox). However, if they are allowed to search (and they can search a car without a warrant), a stamped envelope is not protected from their search.

erwins 29 July 2015 08:00 PM

That's only partly true. Police can search an envelope--stamped or not--if the warrant they have, or the exception to the warrant requirement that applies, covers searching envelopes. Police can have a warrant to search your house for, say, guns. If that's the case, they could only search an envelope large and bulky enough to possibly contain a gun. If, on the other hand, the warrant orders the police to search for guns and receipts for guns, then probably any envelope could be searched.

Similarly, if the search is under an exception like the automobile exception, the search permitted under the exception is for evidence of the suspected crime. So if the suspected crime is theft of TVs, then no envelope search. If the suspected crime is identity theft, then yes.

zerocool 29 July 2015 09:19 PM

His word vs mine was exactly why I thought filing any kind of complaint would go nowhere. And to be honest, at the time, I was scared. The officer had already lied about smelling something, so in my mind I was wondering what else he would do? I just did everything he said exactly as I was told, including standing in the snow for half an hour in a tshirt.

thorny locust 29 July 2015 09:31 PM

Put it in an envelope and mail it to Chris Christie!

-- sorry, the heat may be affecting my brain. That would just be a waste of the pot; and I doubt it would get Christie arrested.


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