Traffic Stop Lynchburg Virginia Lawyer Probable Cause Drug Possession
James v. Commonwealth
Defendant was stopped for speeding by a state police officer and the officer observed a pack of cigarette wrapping papers on the floorboard of defendant’s car. The officer also observed a brown paper bag folded up beside defendant’s driver’s seat. The officer picked up the bag, looked in it, and discovered marijuana in the bag. Defendant was ultimately convicted of possessing marijuana and he appealed, claiming that the officer did not have probable cause to look in the bag.
- Whether the officer had probable cause to believe that defendant possessed marijuana?
The court agreed and reversed the trial court’s judgment. The officer testified that the reason he looked in the bag was based purely on the fact that he saw the cigarette papers lying underneath defendant’s feet on the driver’s side of the car. The court found that it would have been rational to believe that the bag contained tobacco, defendant’s lunch, or any other lawful substance. Thus, the officer did not have probable cause to believe that defendant possessed marijuana and the marijuana evidence was improperly admitted.
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Article written by A Sris
These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.