X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:A jury convicted appellant of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. On appeal, he relied on State v. Steelman, 93 S.W.3d 102 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002), to argue that the police lacked probable cause to enter his home, and, thus, the trial court erred in failing to suppress the marijuana found in plain view after that entry. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling. HOLDING:Affirmed. Appellant relies on this court’s decision in Steelman as support for his argument that, as a matter of law, the odor of marijuana by itself is insufficient to establish probable cause for an officer to enter a home without a warrant. The court did not, as appellant argues, find that the odor of marijuana alone was insufficient to establish probable cause to believe that someone had committed or was then committing the offense of possession of marijuana. With respect to a warrantless entry and arrest, Steelman reiterated what previously had been well established: the odor of marijuana emanating from a residence, by itself, is insufficient to establish both the probable cause and statutory authority required for a warrantless arrest of a particular person inside. The determination of whether an officer has probable cause and exigent circumstances to enter a person’s home without a warrant is a factual one based on the sum of all the information known to the officer at the time of entry. Because appellant does not contest the adequacy of the exigent circumstances, the court examines all of the evidence presented during the suppression hearing to determine whether the police officer had probable cause to believe that the instrumentality of a crime or evidence of a crime would be found at the time he made his warrantless entry into appellant’s home. The appellant is mistaken in concluding that all facts must be placed into one category only: “probable cause” or “exigent circumstances.” A reviewing court must analyze each piece of evidence as part of the totality of information, as it relates to both the probable cause and the exigent circumstances determinations. The court notes that the officer testified to several different facts that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that a crime likely had been or was being committed inside appellant’s home. “Officer Stevens’s decision to enter appellant’s home was not based on one fact, but rather the sum total of his knowledge of appellant and the surrounding circumstances existing at that time. This evidence showed that appellant, a person known to the officer, had others present in his home. At least one of the others appeared to be a juvenile who was also known to the officers, thus corroborating, in part, Ms. Leal’s information about underage drinking. He knew that someone in the house had recently been smoking marijuana, and that, as soon as he knocked on the door, one of the minors ran up the stairs. This evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court’s ruling, is sufficient to establish probable cause for a warrantless entry into appellant’s residence to investigate further. Here, unlike the situation in Steelman, the”tip’ of ongoing criminal conduct was partially corroborated before any entry and the officers did not immediately arrest everyone inside.” The totality of information and facts presented in the suppression hearing was sufficient to establish probable cause (appellant does not dispute the existence of exigent circumstances for a warrantless entry), the court of appeals did not err in upholding the trial court’s ruling. OPINION:Cochran, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Keller, P.J., and Meyers, Price, Johnson, Keasler and Hervey, JJ., joined. Womack and Holcomb, JJ., concurred in the result.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.