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Name: People v. Collier
Case #: B207163
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 09/18/2008
Summary

The odor of marijuana from a vehicle stopped for a Vehicle Code violation provides probable cause for a limited pat-down search of the passenger. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officers stopped a vehicle, in which appellant was a passenger, because the vehicle had no front license plate. As they approached the vehicle they smelled marijuana and one of the officers asked appellant to step out of the vehicle. Appellant was taller than the officer and was wearing baggy clothing which led the officer to believe he might be in possession of a weapon. The officer patted him down for weapons and found a loaded handgun in appellant’s pants pocket. The appellate court upheld the lower court’s denial of the suppression motion, observing that the smell of marijuana provided the officers with justification to ask appellant and driver to exit so that the car could be searched. Once appellant had exited the vehicle and the officer noted his baggy clothing, the officer had justification to conduct the pat-down for officer safety. The Fourth Amendment does not require police officers to take unreasonable risks in the performance of their duties. (Pennsylvania v. Mimms (1977) 434 U.S. 106, 110.)