Doctrine of probable cause (case analysis)

This paper examines an article that appeared in the Seattle Times Newspaper in 2009. This article reported a traffic police stop check that happened in the county of Skagit. According to the article, the court was united in it verdict that the “smell of pot does not entail probable cause to guarantee arresting and even searching everybody who was in the car. ” (Jones 2009). I will evaluate the requirements of warrant in relation to this case and to some extent, the works that cuts across probable and criminal procedure. (Jones 2009)

The probable cause in this case was in relation to the vehicle and the people it was carrying. It is important to note that the ruling in this case has changed future approaches pertaining to similar cases. The judges said that, although bhang can continue to smell for several days, the police officers should not leave a vehicle alone that “smells pot. ” The court said although the smell of marijuana may have been a good reason to arrest the occupants in the car there was need for the police to gather some more supporting evidence.

This was because the smell alone may result in arresting innocent people. The court observed that the smell can remain for several weeks and at some point an innocent person may board the car without this knowledge and get arrested. The police officer had a “probable cause to search the car, but not to arrest the driver or even the occupants according to the Supreme Court ruling. ” (Jones 2009) But what might change in future is how a search in such a scenario is approached. Many people are not comfortable with a search that does not have a warrant.

Nevertheless, if there is a reason that justifies probable cause or if it falls under the plain doctrine, then it is likely that no warrant will be required, and in most cases the judges will uphold it. (Jones 2009) It is important to understand that probable cause means there is a good reason to “believe that somebody has committed a crime. ” (probable cause 2009). Again, the doctrine of “plain view” (plain view 2009)can be defined as “things that fall in the plain view of police officer who is rightly in a position to have a clear view of them are subject to arrest without any warrant” (plain view 2009).

This means that a police officer is legally required to arrest somebody without any warrant or evidence of any illegal goods (like marijuana in this case) that are found in the plain view in a lawful operation. (Jones 2009) As it can be observed from this case, the smell of Marijuana is not enough reason to justify probable Cause. This means that the police officer should find extra legal means so as to have a strong case. The police should have sought a warrant first and then use the smell of marijuana as a just cause.

This way the police would have been able to “search and arrest all the people in the car. ” (Jones 2009). Indeed this would have made it easier for the people to be easily convicted. Even the police spokesperson was quick to point out that the police, in the future the police would be required to be careful in their investigations. (Jones 2009) In summary, it can be said that the two doctrines, probable cause and plain view are valid for the police to use. But what is required is that they be used correctly.

In some cases like this one, the two doctrines cannot work independently. Therefore there is need for the police to be careful and sharpen their investigation skills References Jones, L. (2008) Supreme Court Ruling. The Seattle Times, Local News, Retrieved April 6, 2010 from http://seattletimes. nwsource. com Plain view (2009). US constitution: fourth amendment. Retrieved from http:caselaw. lpfind law. com Probable Cause (2009) Definition of probable cause Retrieved from http://www. lectlaw. lpfindlaw. com