People v. Tarcardon (2020) 53 Cal. App. 5th 89

Odor of Marijuana; Detention

LE approach a vehicle legally parked where the occupants are reclined back and smoke is coming out of the car. LE spotlighted the car, but did not activate any emergency equipment. An occupant got out quickly and started to leave when LE told her to stay outside the car and on the sidewalk near it so LE could keep her under observation. At that point, LE smelled the odor of marijuana. LE came up to the vehicle and, using his flashlight, observed 3 larges bags of marijuana. LE also saw a burnt roach in the ashtray. The subject of this case was in the driver’s seat and told to stay there. A records check showed subject was on probation with search terms. Search uncovered additional contraband and evidence of trafficking. The court held that subject was not detained when the occupant was told to stay out of the car and remain on the sidewalk. Here, the vehicle was not blocked by LE; activating the spotlight and approaching the cart on foot did not constitute a detention of the subject (driver). Driver was detained when told to remain in the vehicle after LE smelled and spotted the large amount of marijuana. At that point, LE had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity so detention and search were legal.