Brunson v. State

In Brunson v. State, 327 Ark. 567, 940 S.W.2d 440 (Ark. 1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 898, 139 L. Ed. 2d 173, 118 S. Ct. 244 (1997), the defendant was a passenger in a car that was lawfully stopped. The officer smelled marijuana. Based on that odor, the officer searched each person in the car and found marijuana on the defendant. The defendant argued that the search was made without probable cause. The court disagreed, stating that "upon smelling the marijuana or its smoke emanating from the vehicle, Detective Breckon had probable cause to believe that an offense had been or was being committed in his presence. Quite simply, the smell of the marijuana or its smoke emanating from a vehicle constitutes facts and circumstances sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that a controlled substance has been or is being possessed or delivered or both, and, thus, that a violation of law has occurred or is occurring." The court concluded that the officer "had probable cause to arrest both of the occupants of the vehicle." The court was "not persuaded" by the defendant's argument "that an individualized suspicion or cause is required to arrest each occupant under the facts and circumstances presented in this case." The court explained that "such an argument would lead to the illogical conclusion that none of the four occupants could have been arrested even though the smell of marijuana or its smoke was emanating from the enclosed space of the vehicle where all four occupants were present."