As a result of last November’s election, recreational use of marijuana is now legal in California. However, this does not mean that people can take other people’s stashes without their permission. This especially applies to law enforcement officers taking custody of legal amounts of marijuana without a legal basis.
An officer with the San Jose Police Department was arrested on suspicion of petty theft for reportedly taking a suspect’s marijuana in the midst of a domestic violence investigation. The officer, who has 21 years of law enforcement experience, responded to a domestic violence call and is accused of taking a small amount of marijuana from an arrested suspect.
An administrative investigation conducted months after the arrest found that the officer likely stole the marijuana. He was booked and released and has been placed on administrative leave.
While the story may seem comical or ironic given the circumstances, it exemplifies the need for officers accused of crimes to have experienced legal representation. Just like those who they arrest, police officers are entitled to the same constitutional protections through the criminal process. More importantly, strict adherence to these principles could lead to an officer being acquitted or having criminal charges dismissed. Both of which could preserve an officer’s career.
If you have been charged with a crime or are under investigation for such, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. It may not be helpful to your case to believe that simply because you are a police officer, leniency will follow you through the process.
The preceding is not legal advice.