It was 8pm on a friday. We had several friends (6 people total) over at my apartment. We were hanging out and relaxing before heading out for dinner -- listening to some music and smoking a bit. One of my friends who lived nearby went to grab something out of his apartment before we left for dinner. He opened the door only to find 2 local cops standing there. As my friend called me to the door they were saying that there had been a complaint that we were having a loud party. (At this point, the adrenelin rush just about floored me.) I tried to exit into the hallway and close the door behind me, but they looked at each other, sniffed the air, and declared that they smelled marijuana and that they were coming in.
They quickly took charge of the situation, ordering everone into the living room (which is just inside the entry-way). They freaked out when they heard noises coming from the back of the apartment, but we explained that it was only the washing machine. They gave everone a pat-down search and called for backups. They explained that due to the odor of marijuana and the pipe that was visible on the table they had cause to search, and that I could either sign a search waiver or they would have a warrant prepared. They made it clear that they would be in a very foul mood if forced to get a warrant. Since all I had was a few pipes (the small amount of weed we were smoking belonged to one of the friends), I deciced to sign the waiver after consulting everyone.
Their buddies showed up, and they began to search after verifying everyone was over 18 years of age. They said that if I just brought everything illegal I had out to them, it would be much easier on me. So I showed them where my bong and pipes were. They searched for the better part of an hour (they weren't very thorough -- I latter found some shrooms I had forgotten I had...). Finally, we figured out that they were still looking for the "stash", so we had to explain that the "stash" (less than a gram!) was _in_ the friend's proto-pipe. This seemed to satify them, and they stopped searching soon thereafter. The friend who owned the pipe and I were both issued citations for disorderly conduct. (They said that unless we pleaded guilty, misdemeanor possesion charges would be filed instead.)
A couple of comments and questions:
We're not sure why they showed up at our door. Our apartment had cement walls between the units. We've never heard our neighbors, and there have never been any complaints about us in the past. On the night of the bust, the music was not loud. Our best guess is that some smoke escaped into the hallway a 1/2 hour earlier when the last of the friends arived, and a neighbor smelt it...
Were they just waiting for someone to open the door and leave (knowing that if they knocked, we probably wouldn't have answered)? Anyone else have this happen?
The cops were rude, but not overly so. Despite the fact that we were harming nobody and my home was being invaded, I tried to be pleasant with them. On several occasions, I refused to answer their questions, but this didn't bother them too much. Towards the end, they were even joking around a bit.
2 major themes were obvious to me: Insure that no one was under 18 years old, and "find the stash".
They thought the washing machine was someone flushing stuff down the toilet -- but they did not run back to investigate -- they just yelled a lot. Not until I signed the waiver did they go throughout the apartment.
We pled guilty and were each given a $70 fine. So overall, it seems that this was no big deal, but we were scared shitless at the time... (I subsequently donated twice this amount to the libertarian party.)
We were very lucky that we had next to nothing in the apartment. If this had happened a few weeks earlier... In any case, I moved. We don't have any neighbors anymore.
So -- anyone have any suggestions on things we could have done differently? Anyone have any bust stories they want to share? What sort of computers will this disorderly conduct charge show up on?
: So -- anyone have any suggestions on things we could have done
Well, it's your call and sounds like you were lucky, but I would NEVER, EVER voluntarily allow police to search my home and I would NEVER, EVER help them by showing them where things were. I don't know what state you are in (but I'm guessing California since you only got a citation), but in some states just the fact that they found marijuana would be grounds for your property to be confiscated. This means that you could have lost everything you own to the state. And if they had found the 'shrooms, it would have been a felony and some states have minimum _mandatory_ sentences of 10 years.
As you correctly pointed out--cops aren't usually that thorough or that smart. I wouldn't help them along at all. Your home is your castle and they have no right to be there just because they smelled something.
These guys did the right thing in (somewhat) co-operating with the cops. In my bust situations the cops have allways gotten angy with un-co-operative suspects. And even though their anger didn't cause them to violate the law they didn't cut anyone any slack as a result. These guys would have been detained until the search warrant came through, and the contraband on the coffee table assures that. Also some cops feel that they deserve some property for their extra effort.
As it was these guys had the good sense to get on the cops good side. This puts the cops at ease and they are more likely to cut the suspect any slack that the law allows them.
If not for the contraband on the coffee table I would not have given permission to search.
Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree, particularly here in the UK where a cry of "I know my rights" would tend to result in laughter from the assembled police, followed by a swift beating and then they'd come in anyway.
Here, they aren't likely to be concerned about a little bit of pot, and you may get a caution if you are unlucky. But if they plan on searching, they'll do it. Resistance just makes things tougher on you.
I suspect Dena has never been at the mercy of the law. Funny how your perspective shifts after a few arrests.