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Name: People v. Hunter
Case #: A107699
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/12/2005

Appellant’s car was pulled over by police because of a “very loud” muffler. Police observed a passenger moving around and looking back at them as the car stopped, which they thought suspicious. When they approached, they observed that neither the driver nor the passengers wore seatbelts. One passenger said that he was a CYA parolee, another was identified by an officer as a known street drug dealer. The driver and passengers were ordered out of the car for officer safety while officers checked identifications. As the backseat passenger got out, an officer spotted a bag of what appeared to be marijuana inside. The driver said the marijuana was his, and the officer began writing a citation. Meanwhile the CYA parole was verified. The officers decided to search the vehicle for more drugs, including the trunk. They found 14 more bags of marijuana, a handgun, and other evidence. Appellant was arrested, and a subsequent search of his person revealed cash and more drugs. Appellant moved to suppress the evidence, and the trial court granted the motion on the grounds that there was no probable cause to search the trunk of the car, citing Wimberly v. Superior Court. The prosecutor appealed the denial of his motion to reinstate the complaint. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling, finding that several subsequent state and federal rulings have held that probable cause to search an automobile extends to every part of the vehicle. Here, the presence of a known drug dealer, along with the presence of the bag of marijuana, supplied the probable cause to search other parts of the vehicle. The search of the trunk was therefore proper.