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Police had probable cause to search car, so didn’t unlawfully extend stop to wait for drug dog

State v. Warner E. Solomon, 2022AP634-CR, District 2, 5/24/23 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

The court of appeals rejects Solomon’s argument that the police unlawfully extended a traffic stop to wait for a drug dog to arrive to do a thorough search of his car.

After stopping Solomon for speeding and detecting the odor of marijuana from the vehicle generally and the passenger (Solomon’s brother) specifically, the officer decided he would search the interior of the car. He called for a drug dog and while waiting for it to arrive started writing a speeding ticket. While doing that he learned Solomon and his brother had prior convictions for possession of drugs with intent to deliver. The subsequent search found drugs and firearms, among other things. (¶¶3-9).

Solomon argues that, having linked the odor of marijuana to his brother and found no drugs on either of them, the officer unlawfully extended a stop for speeding into a drug search without sufficient reasonable suspicion. (¶15). The court of appeals rejects this framing, holding that, under the “very similar” (¶14) facts in State v. Secrist, 224 Wis. 2d 201, 210, 589 N.W.2d 387 (1999), and other information the officer discovered during the stop, there was probable cause to search the car from the get-go and reason to wait for the dog to arrive:

¶20     …[O]nce the deputy detected the odor of burnt marijuana, the mission here lawfully expanded from issuing a speeding ticket to finding contraband or evidence of a crime, and from the start of his search, the deputy possessed probable cause to believe such was in the vehicle. When the deputy also discovered that Solomon was driving a vehicle he did not own, which the deputy indicated is common with drug traffickers, that Solomon and his brother had prior criminal convictions for possession of illegal drugs with intent to deliver, and that there was a “large sum of money” in a Ziploc bag in the center console, he had heightened concern and additional probable cause that the vehicle not only contained evidence of the possession of illegal drugs, but that it also contained evidence of the trafficking of illegal drugs. His awareness that illegal drug trafficking often involves hidden compartments then reasonably led him to pursue the assistance of the trained drug-detection dog. The deputy’s decision to continue his search with the aid of a drug dog was entirely reasonable and supported by probable cause. Indeed, the deputy’s conduct and search was at all times reasonable and constitutional.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Ryan M June 1, 2023, 11:24 pm

    Hemp has been legal for many years now and burning is a common form of administration. It has been completely unreasonable to be treated this way by a police officer. For anyone to be discriminated against for the method used to intake hemp is absurd and damaging.

  • Ryan M June 2, 2023, 12:45 pm

    I’ve been regularly taking hemp before my commutes for years. If not already at home, I’m stopping on the side of the road or parking lot to do so through a water pipe/bong. Hemp has been widely available for almost 10 years now and burning/inhaling is a common form of administration. It also no longer requires a doctor’s recommendation, despite being recommended to me years ago. It has been completely unreasonable to be treated this way by a police officer. It is unreasonable for me to assume I’m in danger every moment of my life due to my essential medication. For anyone to be discriminated against for the method used to intake hemp is absurd and damaging. In fact, the State is continuing a malicious prosecution against me where the officers involved ignored original labels of a container, refused to provide articulatable suspicion, and claim a chain of custody that’s impossible from other witness testimony. This is besides the point that the State Crime Lab can’t generate so much as reasonable suspicion because there tests are inadequate and will return identical results between marijuana and a lot of legal hemp. The definition of unreasonable is not “without reason” as this would be widely abused by police who want to be judges themselves. A more appropriate definition is “beyond the limits of acceptability or fairness”. Police refusing medication to a patient, then incapacitating them and providing a false narrative so that patient is drugged-up and unable to function or defend themselves is the very definition of “unreasonable”.

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