Rideout v. Wyoming

In Rideout v. Wyoming, 122 P.3d 201 (Wyo. 2005), officers approached a residence for purpose of investigating the marijuana possession of a third party. They could smell the "very strong" odor of marijuana when a person opened the door, exited, and closed the door behind him. From the front porch, the officers could see an occupant of the house moving quickly from the dining room area in the front of the house toward the back. They entered the home in order to secure it to prevent the destruction of evidence while they obtained a warrant. When a warrant was obtained, the police seized "numerous items related to drug trafficking." 122 P.3d at 204. The Wyoming Court concluded that the officers' warrantless entry was supported by exigent circumstances. The court explained that the officers did not have probable cause to believe that a crime was being committed until they smelled marijuana "emanating from inside the residence." Id. at 208. The court also found important that "the exigencies were not of the deputies' making," but rather, the officers "had a legitimate law enforcement purpose for their presence at the residence." Id. The court summarized: Given the furtive movements of the individual when the deputies approached the residence and their knowledge that at least one other person . . . was inside, it was reasonable for the deputies to fear destruction of evidence if they exited the premises and waited for a search warrant. Id.