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Pittsburgh Rapper Wiz Khalifa Arrested on Marijuana Charges

Pittsburgh's own Wiz Khalifa was arrested in North Carolina Monday evening after a concert at East Carolina University's campus. Police raided his tour bus during a concert and found about 57.5 grams (about two ounces) of marijuana on board. Court records state Khalifa is being charged with trafficking in marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

Khalifa's birth name is Cameron Thomaz and he attended Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh. He has been on his "Waken Baken tour" since September. Khalifa was released Tuesday morning on $300,000 bond. He then appeared in court to request a reduction in his bond and to pay bail for members of his entourage who were also arrested.

The news reports on this story are slightly unclear on whether the police had a warrant and why they raided Khalifa's tour bus. Before police raided his tour bus, Khalifa was reportedly heard saying he liked to get high before performing. Additionally, John Durham, spokesman for East Carolina University, told The Associated Press that officers had noticed a strong marijuana odor around the backstage area.

When looking at this story from a criminal defense attorney's perspective, why the police decided to raid Khalifa's bus is going to be important. The Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement is somewhat relaxed in the vehicle context in what is referred to as the "automobile exception." However, that does not mean the police can search any vehicle they want. The automobile exception permits police to search a vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains evidence of a crime.

Whether or not the police had probable cause to search Khalifa's bus is going to be the key issue in this case. If all the police had to go on was hearing a performer bragging about smoking marijuana and smelling marijuana smoke at a concert, then they may have a hard time showing they had probable cause for a search of Khalifa's bus in particular once an experienced criminal defense attorney gets involved in this case.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh-based rapper Khalifa arrested during N.C. show; Jim McKinnon, 11/9/2010

Source: ThePittsburghChannel.com: Pittsburgh Rapper Wiz Khalifa Arrested; 11/9/2010

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