Does the odor of marijuana in a car justify the search of all passengers? That was the issue in a 2-day suppression hearing yesterday in D.C. Superior Court. The answer: no. Evidence suppressed. Verdict not guilty.
More and more police are claiming to smell the odor of marijuana then using their noses to justify warranty searches. In yesterdays’ case, United State Park Police officers in D.C. testified that they smelled the “faint” odor of marijuana coming from a vehicle with 4 people stopped for an illegal u-turn. Without further investigation, the Park Police removed a rear seat passenger and began to search him, allegedly finding a small bag of marijuana in his pants pocket.
Paul filed a motion to suppress the evidence as the fruit of an illegal search. There was nothing linking the marijuana odor to this particular passenger and no evidence of how long the odor might have been in the car and how it got there. In a word, no probable cause for a search.
After a two-day hearing, the thoughtful judge agreed. Kudos to the client who insisting on fighting for his constitutional rights instead of accepting the government’s plea bargain.