MORTON V. COM.
CRIMINAL: SEARCH AND SEIZURE, PLAIN SMELL
PANEL: THOMPSON PRESIDING; WINE, HENRY CONCUR
DATE RENDERED: 08/24/2007
TC propertly denied Morton’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the search of his person. Since Morton concedes that his vehicle was legitimately stopped and that the drug dog’s alerts provided probable cause to search his vehicle, the issue is simply whether or not the probable cause which triggered the automobile exception extended to Morton, the lone occupant of the vehicle, permitting the search of his person. CA held that a positive canine alert, signifying the presence of drugs inside a vehicle, provides law enforcement with the authority to search the driver for drugs but does not permit the search of the vehicle’s passengers for drugs unless law enforcement can articulate an independent showing of probable cause as to each passenger searched. Although officer’s subjective justification for pulling out the folded dollar bill was not constitutionally adequate, the totality of the facts known to him at the time of his action, viewed objectively, would permit a finding of probable cause to search Morton for drugs because of the dog’s alert of his vehicle.
Digested by Scott C. Byrd