Being from Colorado, my son asked a pretty interesting question. State Police come into your house on a warrant and you’re there smoking a joint. Under state law that’s legal but under Federal law it’s illegal. What would they do?
The State Police wouldn’t do anything about that, it’s not a crime that they are enforcing.
I’d say it depends on their mood and their orders. State Police can make arrests for violations of federal criminal law.
Maybe not generally, but how about this: They pull over a car for a broken tail light. Cop has a hunch that the vehicle occupants are up to something. No articulable suspicion, just a hunch. There is a sealed package on the passenger seat containing legally purchased (under Colorado law) marijuana. The cops really want to search the car but can’t find a reason.
Light bulb goes off: Arrest the driver for possession of marijuana under the federal law and search the entire vehicle incident to arrest.
Would it work?
State LEA are not supposed to uphold the laws of the United States?
What happens if State LEA
i) Find a house with counterfeiting operations?
ii) Discover that someone is a deserter from the armed forces.
iii) On vacation in a ski resort I (a foreigner) recognise a person who is an escaped murderer from my country. I go tell them and have taken a mobile phone snap. They will brush me off.
The way it usually works is that local and state authorities are authorized to detain people suspected of certain federal crimes (including drug crimes) but they have to call the federal authorities to pick them up and actually prosecute them. In theory, the same sort of limits on holding someone without charge should apply as with a state crime so if the feds don’t show up to take over, the person should eventually get turned loose. It hasn’t always exactly worked that way, particularly when it comes to immigration issues, but in general that’s the idea.
With the situation in Colorado and Washington there’s two issues. One is that right now the state authorities simply don’t want to waste their time hassling people who are in compliance with the new state legalization laws. Some of the decriminalization and MM statues even explicitly forbid state authorities from helping the feds prosecute people who are in compliance with state law, although I don’t think either of the legalization measures did. But even if in the future the state cops decide they were going to start trying to hand people who are in compliance with the state marijuana laws over to the feds, perhaps the bigger issue is that there’s nobody to hand them over to. The DEA might care about some of the bigger fish, but otherwise there’s not really any federal agency who’s going to be interested in prosecuting people for simple possession. In theory, DEA could hire a bunch more people to take over low-level drug prosecutions and in theory the state cops could help them, but thus far it doesn’t sound like anyone involved wants that to happen.
So tl;dr version, yeah, theoretically the state cops could still hand you over to the feds for prosecution, but at the present the state cops aren’t interested in doing that nor are the feds currently interested in prosecuting people in compliance with state drug laws. I think the issue of whether a state cop could use that as pretext for a search is probably a matter for the appeals courts to decide if that ever comes up.
It’s a jurisdictional issue, which can get a bit confusing.
To the best of my knowledge (and I’m no expert):
They would notify the Secret Service. And then hang around until the Secret Service arrived to ensure that evidence wasn’t destroyed and nobody leaves. (Destruction of Evidence and Flight to Avoid Arrest are both local crimes.)
They would notify the relevant branch of the armed forces, and possibly the FBI.
Most likely, they will contact your country. If this guy really looks like the fugitive, things get more complicated, and I hardly begin to understand, but I think the deal is that a federal judge would issue an arrest warrant, then ANY law enforcement officer can execute that warrant. So the local cops could arrest him (not for any crime, but for the judge’s warrant), then the judge would turn him over to US Marshals, who would fly him to your country and turn him over to the right people there.
Of course, that skips the extradition hearing(s) and possible fighting thereof and therein, but the question was about arrests.
A version that has been in the news a lot as various communities struggle with it: local law enforcement is not (officially) concerned with the question of whether you are in the country legally. If they suspect that you are not, they can notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but that’s all. Not only is being in the country illegally not a violation of local laws, communities are prohibited from making laws against it because that is a power reserved for the federal government. “I thought he was an illegal (alien)” is not grounds for arrest by state or local law enforcement. “He struck me as suspicious, and I wanted to check for outstanding warrants for him” is.
I suspect the cop in your scenario would have a better chance with “based upon my (XX) years of experience as a law enforcement officer, I felt the subjects were suspicious, so I asked for a search of their vehicle.” (And by “asked” in this context, I don’t mean “May I look in you trunk?”, but rather, “Dispatch, can I get some help out here to search this vehicle?”)
The occupants would not be immediately arrested, although they would be handcuffed and placed in a police car during the search, “For their safety”.
(I put that in quotes because it would be the exact phrase used, not to imply doubts about its truthfulness.)
Generally true, but one important caveat is that the 1996 immigration reform act set up a framework to give state and local agencies the ability to arrest people for their immigration status alone if they made certain arrangements with ICE. Only a handful of states have agencies that participate, but they include some big ones in California and Arizona.
The way it works for crimes is that if it is a crime in federal OR state law, you may be exposed to being arrested and prosecuted for it. Its unusual for a law to say “but you ARE allowed to do it” in a powerful way. But that is the situation for cannibis in California… they are attempting to say “but we make this legal and this overrides the federal law !”.
A state police officer may act on it, or even if the state tells him to not actively take on Federal arrests, he may act personal and tell the feds. The feds then have their own jurisdiction issues, and don’t wish to be used as the LEO for every state and city,
so for regular crime they only try to track it if it might also breach a specific , unique, federal law (those state border laws, banking and tax, and all the Federal stuff. ) … Or crimes committed on on federal land.
So Decriminalisation of Cannabis then hits the deadlocks.
Someone could be smoking cannabis legally (by the wording of California law) but if they went to a national park federal law applies, despite being wholly inside California , AND federal agents can have them. The Federal court WILL say that the Californian law had no power on federal land. However the federal court cannot tell Californian courts what to do, so the Californian courts will say that the Californian law is in effect.
Its unclear what should be the case when the land is ordinary * land wholly inside the state… (My definition applies … a national park is ordinary, a fenced Air Force base is not ordinary.)
YOu might also find that some local or state law enforcement officers are ‘deputized’ as federal agents. I have a relative, who is a state officer, but has been deputized by a federal agency so he can participate in federal raids and acts.
While a brief, investigative detention can be based on suspicion, it must be reasonable, articulable suspicion. In other words, the officer cannot simply offer the conclusory statement, “I felt the suspects were suspicious.” He must be able to articulate specific facts which give rise to the suspicion.
And a search of the vehicle requires either consent or probable cause, which is a higher standard that reasonable suspicion. (He may conduct a brief pat-down of the outer areas of clothing if he can articulate specific facts that caused him to fear for his safety, with such a pat-down’s purpose being to confirm or dispel suspicions that a weapon is present.)
Now, it’s true that officers are well trained to obtain consent in such circumstances:
OFFICER: Afternoon, sir. For my safety, I need to ask you: do you have anything illegal in this car I should know about? Knives, guns, atomic weapons. anything like that?
DRIVER: Ha. No, no.
OFFICER: Mind if I take a quick look?
The driver is neatly trapped: he’s denied having anything, and now he thinks if he refuses such a reasonable request he’ll look guilty.
But obtain consent they must, or develop probable cause some other way. They cannot simply announce they have suspicions and charge directly into a search.
Depends. In your hypothetical, does the state have a law making counterfeiting explicitly legal? This “serving two masters” problem only comes up when state and federal laws are in conflict, which isn’t a case that arises often. It’ll probably take some time to work out the details.
There may be a conflict in jurisdiction but I don’t believe your statement is 100%. I was married in Angeles National Forest and when applying for the license I asked that question thinking just maybe we needed a Federal marriage license. We did not since California marriage laws apply anywhere within the state.
I also don’t believe that you can violate state law on Federal property simply because the Feds don’t have a law for it. If I go to Rocky Mountain National Park and advocate the overthrow of our state government, I’m pretty sure I could be convicted of treason against Colorado* even if that particular law is not in the USC.
*I’m probably violating the Patriot Act too. The point is that both state and federal laws apply.
In my state Ohio, the State Police, or Highway Patrol, possess no criminal law jurisdiction off of state property, so I’ll address it with the local police/Sheriff.
Most probably, they would just ignore it.
Criminal Simulation under state law!
Research the Assimiliative Crimes Act.
IF he has a RS a gun may be “at hand” in the vehicle, he can do a limited search for it without PC.
I did. Sounds like I was correct. State laws also apply on Federal lands in the state. Ilsidur said they don’t.