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Name: U.S. v. Ojeda
Case #: 01-10020
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/03/2002
Subsequent History: None

Warrantless search based on smell exigency. Officers obtained a search warrant for a meth lab, describing a “single story, single family residence . . . .” The warrant did not include the garage immediately behind and about five feet from the residential structure. When the police were executing the warrant, appellant emerged from the garage and immediately slammed shut the garage door which locked. However, the officers could smell the odor of cooking chemicals for meth and knew it was combustible. They broke open the garage and found the lab. The Court of Appeals here found exigent circumstances to support the warrantless entry, search, and seizure. The court disagreed with the district court’s finding that the exigency was created by the police by their own unreasonable failure to obtain a warrant for the correct location on the property. However, it had not found the officers did so in bad faith. Accordingly, this court found that the police had a right to be on the premises, the garage was only five feet away, and the omission of the garage from the warrant was inadvertent and not intentional. Suppression of evidence reversed. [Editor’s note: others courts have used the “plain smell” exception to support exigent circumstances. See topic: 27.I.8.]