California Sets Double Search Standards

The supreme court; of California has created two distinct sets of criteria for considering whether a search for drugs is valid In Wimberly v, Superior Couit Ihe judges distinguished between the probable cause needed to search a car when police think the occupants are marijuana users as opposed to dealers, transporting the drug for sale.

The case arose when two highway patrolmen stopped an auto that they observed swerving and speeding at 2:30a.m. Shining: a flashlight into the car, one of the cops saw "a jacket, a paper bag, a water jug and a smoking pipe on the floor:" Spotting a number of seeds, the officer asked to see the pipe; he later testified it smelled like burned marijuana. A search revealed a small amount of grass in a pocket of the jacket. The police then opened the trunk and found several pounds of pot and hash.

The court ruled the search of the car's passenger area was legal, because the pipe and seeds provided probable cause. In suppressing the evidence found in the trunk, however, the judges held, "discovery of a quantity of marijuana indicative only of personal use in the interior of the car does not provide probable cause to believe that more marijuana will be found in the trunk:"

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