No Reasonable Suspicion to Search a Parked Vehicle for Marijuana!

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In this case, the stench of smoking marijuana led police to the vehicle of the appellee, but the officers did not have probable cause to search the vehicle.

Appellate Matter

In its appeal, the Commonwealth disagrees with the lower court’s finding that a civil infraction cannot provide probable cause. The Court agrees with the government, but for a different reason: “The totality of the circumstances here did not create probable cause to search the vehicle.” This is despite the fact that the Court does not rule on whether the civil character of the offence affects the constitutionality of the search.

Discussion

The Government Argues in Its Brief and At Oral Argument that The Possession of A Single Marijuana Cigarette Was Sufficient to Justify a Search for Further Illegal Substances.

“But Probable Cause Necessitates an Assessment of All the Facts, and Here the Facts Suggest There Was No Fair Possibility that The Automobile Carried Additional Contraband or Evidence of A Crime.

At the Hotel Parking Lot, Officer Hawker Smelled Cooking Marijuana and Was Pulled into The Car of The Appellee. Furthermore, the Cops Approached Appellee without First Having to Stop Her for A Moving Violation on A Public Road.

Instead, “appellee Was Lawfully Parked in A Parking Place on Private Property — a Hotel Where She Was a Guest and Had a Room. a “high-Crime Neighbourhood” Was Not Where She Was. There Was No Evidence that She Had Lately Been Behind the Wheel, and She Told the Police that She Had No Plans to Do So.

Officer Hawker Stated that Appellee Was “cooperative” and “acting Normal,” and The Body Cam Footage Corroborated that Assessment. the Appellant Got out Of the Car when Instructed to Do So.

She Did Not Make Any Covert Moves or Attempts to Conceal the Cigarette from The Police. She Responded to The Officer’s Queries and Even Admitted that The Cigarette in Her Hand Contained Marijuana. She Informed the Police, “all I Have Is a Blunt,” without Suggesting that She Had Lately Made Any Illegal Purchases of Marijuana.

“The Police Also Did Not Find Anything Else in The Automobile, Other than The Cigarette, that Would Lead Them to Suspect that The Vehicle Was Concealing Illegal Substances or Proof of Criminal Activity. Nothing Else Illegal Was in Plain View, No Weapons Were Found, and The only Odour They Picked up Was that Of Marijuana, but No Other Substances Were Present.

Conclusion

Together, These Facts Do Not Establish a Reasonable Suspicion that The Vehicle Was Transporting Additional Illegal Materials.

The Commonwealth Relies on The Assumption that A Reasonable Officer in This Scenario Could Infer from The Burning Marijuana Cigarette Alone, without Additional Circumstances, that Appellee Had More Marijuana in The Car, but It Has Failed to Articulate Any Other Circumstances Contributing to A Probable Cause Finding.

“Such Conjecture in The Absence of Additional Data, as In the Present Case, Would Amount to Nothing More than A Suspicion; and ‘probable Cause Demands More than A Strong Suspicion.’…

This Court Will Not Give Undue Weight to Any One Piece of Evidence without First “consider[ing] the Full Picture.” the Officers Did Not Have Sufficient Probable Cause to Search the Vehicle without A Warrant Under the Totality of The Facts.

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