Can cops enter your houseif they smell burning marijuana and tell you that it was for a “protective sweep”?

UPDATED: Dec 18, 2011

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Can cops enter your houseif they smell burning marijuana and tell you that it was for a “protective sweep”?

Yesterday I had 2 cops come to my house looking for my roommate who has a warrant. As they were asking me where my roommate was, they asked why they smelled “burning dope”. They then started trying to walk through the door as I was shutting it and telling them they couldn’t come in. The cops then proceeded to shove me out of the doorway and enter the house. They said that they had to do a “protective sweep” and looked in all the rooms. They then asked if we wanted to wait for a warrant or if we would let them search. Was this legal?

Asked on December 18, 2011 under Criminal Law, Wyoming


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Well there are quite a few constitutional issues herein but bottom line is the following. If the police had a search or arrest warrant and it included your home, then they had a right to enter to look for him. If they smelled burning marijuana, a) they had a warrant and b) if you gave them permission to enter, then they had full authority to look for your roommate. If they (while looking for him) found marijuana in plain sight burning or somewhere where your roommate could possibly be like in a closet or something large, then they had every right to confiscate (seize the drugs as it is illegal to possess such items) and arrest those in the same area.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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