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Staying at a state park, and got busted for paraphernalia. What's the difference between that and a police officers ticket?

Madison, WI |

So the park ranger, came over to our friends site, cause it was "quiet time", we wandered over and the ranger followed us to our tents he ended up smelling smoke, in one of the tents and searched both mine and the "smokey" tent, first of all did he have authority to search my tent, can i do anything about that? He found my paraphernalia in my tent, and in the other tent a couple small bags of marijuana. My friend got charged with possession, but he said something interesting that these weren't really police tickets (tickets were mailed), but dnr tickets and it would show up in a basic background check. Can someone explain what he means? This was in a state park up by Stephens Point, WI

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

DNR tickets are prosecuted by the State. So, DNR cases are circuit court cases visible on the public access system. This may be what the ranger meant. To truly find out what the ranger meant, you would have to contact him directly, which you could do as his name should be on the ticket.

We would need to know more about the search to consider if you have a valid motion to suppress the evidence. Did you give the ranger permission to search verbally or by your actions? Where was the odor in relation to your tent? Did any other evidence point to your tent?

There may be other defenses you have not even considered. You really should consult with a local, experienced criminal defense attorney.

Good luck!

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Posted

Law enforcement officers need reasonable suspicion that you have committed or are about to be committing a crime to approach and detain you. Once the officer detains you, he can only hold you as long as it takes him to determine whether there was suspicious or illegal conduct that he initially suspected. He may not escalate the encounter beyond initial contact if he is unable to determine that anything is wrong.

If he smelled marijuana in the air, that in and of itself is reasonable suspicion to approach and can ultimately lead to him being able to search any tent he deems to have that odor. I would highly recommend reviewing the police reports and hiring local counsel.

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