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Commonwealth v. Shaw

Pennsylvania Superior Court

February 17, 2021

In Commonwealth v. Shaw, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the trial court’s order denying the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence found in his car during a traffic stop. After stopping the defendant for a traffic violation, a police officer noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the defendant’s car. The officer stated, “In Pennsylvania, the odor of marijuana is probable cause to search a vehicle.” The defendant did not consent to a search. The officer then found marijuana during a warrantless search of the car. At the time of the motion, the prevailing law supported the motions court’s ruling denying suppression. But while on appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its ruling in Commonwealth v. Alexander and the Superior Court issued its ruling in Commonwealth v. Barr. In light of those precedents, the Superior Court reversed and remanded.

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