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Sc man faces multiple drug charges after police smell chemicals

The Lexington County Sheriff's Department recently arrested a South Carolina man for allegedly cooking methamphetamine inside his garage. He faces multiple drug charges, including manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana.

Generally, police officers need a search warrant to search a person's home. However, a warrantless search may be reasonable, and thus legal, if there is ample and readily-observable evidence of a crime being committed. For example, the Supreme Court has said that the smell of marijuana wafting from the premises can be enough to permit authorities to conduct a warrantless search and seizure.

Here, the officers claim that they noticed a strong smell of chemicals before entering the suspect's home and finding a meth "lab." If the court says that the smell was enough to reasonably tip off police to illegal activity, then evidence that the police found upon entering the home can be used in a criminal trial. If this particular smell was not adequate to notify the police of illegal activity, then the prosecution will not be able to use any of the evidence seized by police during the raid.

In addition to being charged with manufacturing meth and marijuana possession, the man also faces allegations of having a gun while committing a violent crime. In South Carolina, making or selling meth can be a violent crime (and result in all of the associated penalties) even if the illegal act was carried out in an entirely peaceful manner. In other words, the suspect did not have to be acting aggressively or be using a firearm in any way in order to face charges of having a gun while committing a violent crime.

The police first arrived on the scene in response to an early morning complaint of suspicious activity. Bail for the suspect was set at $25,620.

Source: Midlands Connect, "Lexington County man arrested for operating meth lab out of his garage," Ivory Hecker, Dec. 28, 2012

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