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  1. #1
    Terminator's Avatar
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    Washington State Supreme Court rules marijuana odor doesn't warrant search and handcuffing of passengers

    Law-enforcement officers who detect the odor of marijuana from a vehicle can't arrest all of the occupants, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
    In a unanimous ruling, the court determined the smell of pot isn't enough probable cause to warrant the arrest and search of everyone inside a car. While smell alone may be reason for a vehicle search, the court determined, it doesn't warrant handcuffing passengers without other supporting evidence.
    Defense attorneys on Thursday called it a right-to-privacy victory. Law-enforcement officers say it won't greatly affect the way they make arrests.
    The ruling stems from a traffic stop in April 2006 in Skagit County.
    Jeremy Grande was riding in a car driven by Lacee Hurley when they were pulled over by State Patrol Trooper Brent Hanger, court documents said. Hanger stopped the car for windows too darkly tinted, he testified.
    Hanger said he smelled pot in the car, so he arrested and handcuffed Grande and Hurley, court documents said.
    A search of Grande revealed a glass pipe with marijuana in his pocket, according to court papers. Hanger searched the car and found a joint in an ashtray, which Hurley said belonged to her, court documents said. Both were charged with marijuana possession. Grande was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, court documents said.
    The case initially came before the Skagit County District Court, which found there was no probable cause for Grande's arrest. But the state appealed the ruling and the county's Superior Court reversed the order, court documents said. The case was appealed to the state Supreme Court.
    Summing up the state Supreme Court's decision, Justice Charles W. Johnson wrote: "Our state constitution protects our individual privacy, meaning that we are free from unnecessary police intrusion into our private affairs unless a police officer can clearly associate the crime with the individual." In the case of the Skagit County traffic stop, the court found the mere presence of the odor of marijuana was not enough probable cause to warrant the arrest of Grande.
    Attorney David Zuckerman, who brought the case before the state Supreme Court, said the problem is that arresting someone based solely on the odor of marijuana can affect innocents.
    "The smell of marijuana smoke can linger for weeks," Zuckerman said. "You could have a perfectly innocent citizen get into a car where somebody smoked marijuana at some point ... and an officer can just pull you out of a car and book you based on that."
    Zuckerman said Grande was delighted with the decision.
    The decision doesn't mean an officer must walk away from a vehicle that smells of pot. Trooper Hanger did have probable cause to search the car, the state Supreme Court decision said, just not to arrest Grande.
    "What this means is officers are going to have to be a little more keen in their investigative skills," said Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.
    "Normally, if you come across the odor of marijuana ... there's something else going on that helps you identify who the responsible person or persons is."
    Thursday's decision overturned a 1979 state Court of Appeals decision that the smell of marijuana in a car established cause to arrest passengers and driver. But that decision was made three weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court held that the search of a person must be supported by probable cause that's specific to that person.

  2. #2
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Welcome to Washington!
    I'm your huckleberry...

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  3. #3
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    Well...I guess I don't see how this is too big of a deal. It's stupid, yes. But it really shouldn't hinder LE in doing there jobs.
    No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13

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  4. #4
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmur5074 View Post
    Well...I guess I don't see how this is too big of a deal. It's stupid, yes. But it really shouldn't hinder LE in doing there jobs.
    It won't really, we just don't arrest them until we find it.

    It does prevent a search of the individuals though, which sucks.

    Washington State has the strictest constitutional standards in the US. When you got to a class out of State, the instructors usually say "ok, you guys from Washington ignore this."
    I'm your huckleberry...

    Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!

    You can be the weapon, and the gun in your hand is a tool - or the gun is a weapon and you are the tool.


    I was looking for a saint who was a devil of a lover,
    but every girl I found was either one way or the other...



  5. #5
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    Lost one in District Court circa 1989, where I stopped a guy for driving on the shoulder. Odor of fresh beer, from mouth and spilled on his pants and now flowing from under the seat from an unseen container. Got driver out, put on one glove, and reached under seat for the source of "aforementioned intoxicating liquor".

    I made a sweep motion rather than a grab, and out came a cold beer can and a small baggie of MJ. It was way under 40g, he said it was ok to search, nothing more. I gave him the FST, passed. Cited for Poss MJ (misdm) and wrote the moving violation and open container infractions.

    3.5 suppression hearing: Judge tossed the MJ as defense argued I was searching for evidence of an "infraction" not a crime. Thus I was in a civil mode, not criminal. Accidental finding of weed suppressed. Prosecutor argued I had the auth. to do a protective sweep, but I had the guy out and considered him no threat. Defense smiled. He admitted infractions, end of story.

    Washington has 39 ways to interpret these decisions. What? 39 counties.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    It won't really, we just don't arrest them until we find it.

    It does prevent a search of the individuals though, which sucks.

    Washington State has the strictest constitutional standards in the US. When you got to a class out of State, the instructors usually say "ok, you guys from Washington ignore this."
    Yeah I suppose that's true. Yeah that sucks.

    I know what you're saying. I just did a drug interdiction class a few months ago and one of the instructors was from TX. Most of his material was irrelevant to us. I heard that in New Mexico you have to get a warrant for a plain view vehicle search.
    No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13

    "The Wicked Flee When No Man Pursueth: But The Righteous Are Bold As A Lion".

    We lucky few, we band of brothers. For he who today sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~
    The opinions, beliefs, and ideas expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone. They are NOT the opinions, beliefs, ideas, or policies of my Agency, Police Chief, City Council, or any member of my department.

  7. #7
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    I'll keep my Ill standards thank you!
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    "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano"

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  8. #8
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    I think I will keep my search whatever, whenever power
    dulce et decorum est pro patria mori


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    It won't really, we just don't arrest them until we find it.

    It does prevent a search of the individuals though, which sucks.

    Washington State has the strictest constitutional standards in the US. When you got to a class out of State, the instructors usually say "ok, you guys from Washington ignore this."

    Here in Kansas you could pat them down, then feeling the pipe would lead to an arrest. We sometimes have to articulate " based on training and experience I knew it was,,,, blaa, blaaa, "

    I say you could still detain them based on the odor.
    To be a good Law Enforcement Officer you MUST know the law!

  10. #10
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    Here in Kansas you could pat them down, then feeling the pipe would lead to an arrest. We sometimes have to articulate " based on training and experience I knew it was,,,, blaa, blaaa, "

    I say you could still detain them based on the odor.
    We could pat them down if we could articulate a reasonable suspicion that they might be armed, a la Terry.
    I'm your huckleberry...

    Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!

    You can be the weapon, and the gun in your hand is a tool - or the gun is a weapon and you are the tool.


    I was looking for a saint who was a devil of a lover,
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  11. #11
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    What about what the SUPREME COURT SAID? The United States one.
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  12. #12
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro56 View Post
    What about what the SUPREME COURT SAID? The United States one.
    Nothing the SCOTUS does restricts State courts from being more restrictive of their own government.

    As I said, Washington State has stricter constitutional standards than most of the other States.
    I'm your huckleberry...

    Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!

    You can be the weapon, and the gun in your hand is a tool - or the gun is a weapon and you are the tool.


    I was looking for a saint who was a devil of a lover,
    but every girl I found was either one way or the other...



 

 

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