Does the small of pot in a car justify the search of a passenger? That was the issue in a 2-day suppression hearing yesterday in D.C. Superior Court. The answer for one Superior Court judge: no. Evidence suppressed. Verdict not guilty.
In yesterdays’ case, United State Park Police officers from D.C.’s Ohio Drive headquarters testified that they smelled the “faint” odor of marijuana coming from a vehicle with 4 people stopped for an alleged traffic violation.
Without further investigation, the Park Police removed a rear seat passenger and began to search him, allegedly finding 4 grams of marijuana in his pocket. Did they let this out-of-state tourist go with a warning?
You bet they didn’t. With Park Police spending up, and serious crime down, any arrest is a good arrest in Washington, DC. Enter DCMarijuanaLawyer.
Paul filed a motion to suppress the evidence as the fruit of an illegal search, which violated the defendants’ Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable reasonable searches and seizures.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The problem with the search in this case is that here was nothing linking the marijuana smell to this particular passenger, no evidence of how long the smell might have been in the car, or how it got there. In a word, no probable cause for a search.
After a two-day hearing, the thoughtful Superior Court judge agreed. The marijuana evidence was suppressed and a verdict of not guilty was entered. Kudos to the client who insisting on fighting for his constitutional rights instead of accepting the government’s plea bargain for community service.