Probable cause. Ahh....the holy grail of criminal law. Thousands, probably tens of thousands of cases have discussed what it is and what it isn't.
This probable cause journey is reported in the Washington Post here.
Robert Harte a former CIA analyst and his grade school son went shopping at a gardening store for hydroponics to grow tomatoes for the young boy's school project. Big brother in the form of an officer in the parking lot recording plates of people who made "suspicious" buys at the gardening store, was watching. Harte's license plate was recorded.
Lesson one: avoid gardening stores in the USA.
For six months operation "Constant Gardner" (we are not making this up) did trash pulls of the Harte's trash at their suburban home in Kansas. They found suspicious "saturated plant material" in the garbage. Possible cannabis? (Cue ominous music). But in fact Mrs. Harte likes to drink tea she brews herself.
Lesson two: stick to coffee in the USA. Coffee grounds are not mistaken for marijuana.
The loose plant material tested (falsely) for THC. Further tests of the THC test the police used showed that it gave false positives for sage, chocolate chip cookies, soap, deodorant, breath mints, Jolly Rogers, and tortilla dough.
The article is worth a read just on the tests proving the unreliability of field tests. They aren't worth the tortilla dough they are testing.
Lesson three: Avoid the munchies where you make cookies and tortillas and then have some Jolly Rogers and a breath mint. It's a meal loaded with trouble with a capital T like the T in THC.
On April 20, (4/20- get it? The police in Kansas like to do Marijuana raids on 42) SWAT hit the Harte home: "Drop the tea and cookies and breath mints and step away from the soap and deodorant and put your hands in the air!!'
When the dust settled and it was clear the Harte's were innocent they sued.
Last week US District Judge John Lungstrum dismissed their complaints, finding the police had probable cause.
Lesson Four: eating a ham sandwich in the United States in a manner that arouses the suspicions of a law enforcement officer is probable cause in the USA circa 2015.
Let's review- shopping for gardening supplies and drinking tea is probable cause.
Pardon us while we hang our head in shame. We're doomed.
See You In Court.
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