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Solved: Kalb County Police Officer Richardson stopped a motorist named B


Kalb County Police Officer Richardson stopped a motorist named Brown on Candler Road while it was raining for driving without using his headlights because he suspected that Brown might be DUI. Brown explained to the officer that he was not aware the lights were not on. When the officer asked Brown to produce his operator’s license and evidence of insurance, Brown began a search for the requested documentation. While looking for the documents, Brown pulled an object out of one of his front pockets that the officer described as a “piece of paper” approximately one to two inches in diameter. When the paper fell in between Brown’s legs onto the car seat, Brown immediately closed his legs. The officer asked Brown, “What are you trying to hide?”The trial testimony is silent as to Brown’s reply. Officer Richardson then asked Brown to exit the car; however, Brown did not comply. He continued looking in the car for the documents until they were finally found. Brown appeared nervous and shaky while poking around the car. This made Richardson suspicious that Brown was attempting to hide something. After Brown produced the documents, Officer Richardson asked him to step out of the car. Brown was given a Terry investigative pat down, which produced neither weapons nor contraband, and he was then placed unarrested inside of Richardson’s locked patrol car. The officer then proceeded to enter Brown’s car to look for the piece of paper. Richardson found it, in plain view, on the car seat. This search disclosed the existence of several small plastic bags which were subsequently identified from field tests to be rock cocaine. Brown was then arrested for possession of cocaine. The officer did not know that anything was in the piece of paper at the time he conducted his search, and he did not see the cocaine in the paper until the officer subjected it to close examination. Did Officer Richardson have probable cause to make a warrantless search of Brown’s car?


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