State v. Warner E. Solomon, 2022AP634-CR, District 2, 5/24/23 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

The court of appeals rejects Solomon’s argument that the police unlawfully extended a traffic stop to wait for a drug dog to arrive to do a thorough search of his car.

After stopping Solomon for speeding and detecting the odor of marijuana from the vehicle generally and the passenger (Solomon’s brother) specifically, the officer decided he would search the interior of the car. He called for a drug dog and while waiting for it to arrive started writing a speeding ticket. While doing that he learned Solomon and his brother had prior convictions for possession of drugs with intent to deliver. The subsequent search found drugs and firearms, among other things. (¶¶3-9).

Solomon argues that, having linked the odor of marijuana to his brother and found no drugs on either of them, the officer unlawfully extended a stop for speeding into a drug search without sufficient reasonable suspicion. (¶15). The court of appeals rejects this framing, holding that, under the “very similar” (¶14) facts in State v. Secrist, 224 Wis. 2d 201, 210, 589 N.W.2d 387 (1999), and other information the officer discovered during the stop, there was probable cause to search the car from the get-go and reason to wait for the dog to arrive:

¶20     …[O]nce the deputy detected the odor of burnt marijuana, the mission here lawfully expanded from issuing a speeding ticket to finding contraband or evidence of a crime, and from the start of his search, the deputy possessed probable cause to believe such was in the vehicle. When the deputy also discovered that Solomon was driving a vehicle he did not own, which the deputy indicated is common with drug traffickers, that Solomon and his brother had prior criminal convictions for possession of illegal drugs with intent to deliver, and that there was a “large sum of money” in a Ziploc bag in the center console, he had heightened concern and additional probable cause that the vehicle not only contained evidence of the possession of illegal drugs, but that it also contained evidence of the trafficking of illegal drugs. His awareness that illegal drug trafficking often involves hidden compartments then reasonably led him to pursue the assistance of the trained drug-detection dog. The deputy’s decision to continue his search with the aid of a drug dog was entirely reasonable and supported by probable cause. Indeed, the deputy’s conduct and search was at all times reasonable and constitutional.