Commonwealth v. J.D.
Police were on the lookout for a silver Audi Q7 that was reported to have been involved in several recent shootings. Officers observed J.D. operating a silver Q7 near where the shootings had occurred and conducted a traffic stop. During the stop, police claimed to have smelled marijuana, removed the occupants and recovered some narcotics from the passenger area. They then called for an expert in “hidden compartments” who conducted a further search. This officer found what he believed to be a hidden compartment behind the radio. A gun was recovered and tested for DNA, which was a match for J.D. The defense rejected a plea offer of 7.5 to 15 years in jail and filed a motion to suppress evidence arguing the police lacked probable cause to stop the car and/or probable cause to conduct the search. A judge agreed with the defense with respect to the illegal stop and held that the description of the vehicle from the shootings was too vague as the police did not have a license plate for the car they were looking for or any distinguishing features to the car itself. The judge also agreed with the defense argument that the mere smell of marijuana did not provide a sufficient basis to search the car in the way that police did in this case. The gun and DNA evidence recovered were suppressed and the case will be dismissed.