The case is about an accused Pringle, who was arrested with his two friends Donte Partlow and Otis Smith with allegations of being drug traffickers. The incident took place at 3:16 am on 7th August, 1999, in Baltimore County. A police officer on patrol stopped the car in which the accused was sitting due to over speeding. As a routine duty, the officer asked for the driver’s license. He found no violations in the details of the driver. As soon as another patrol car arrived, the officer questioned Partlow (the driver) if he in any case possessed any kind of drugs or weapons in his vehicle. Partlow pointed out that he did not and consented to a search of the car. Unfortunately, the search yielded 763 dollars from the glove section and five plastic glassine bags of cocaine from the rear seat armrest. Failing to answer the question of who owned the drugs led to the arrest of the three, and a case was filed against them. Later that morning, Pringle confessed that he owned the drugs and this being the case, his two friends were released.
The opinion was authored by the Supreme Court of the United States and a decision was made. This opinion was delivered on December 15, 2003 by Chief Justice Rehnquist. The decision offered by the Court of Appeals of Maryland is that there is not a clear probable cause for the arrest of Pringle, since he is just a passenger in a vehicle driven by its owner.
The issue presented to the court is that Pringle tries to justify himself by telling that they were heading for a party and were going to use the drugs for sex. The officer claims that Pringle is a drug trafficker with evidence of the five glassine envelopes of cocaine in the vehicle and, therefore, wants the court to make judgment based on that probable cause. On the other hand, Pringle refuses these allegations and tries to use almost a similar case of Ybarra which fails to work his way. The question is whether the probable cause justifies the arrest of the accused.
The Court disputes Pringle’s allegation of illegal arrest. A jury declared Pringle guilty of an intention to distribute cocaine and possession of cocaine. Accordingly, Pringle is imprisoned for ten years without any chance of parole. This was affirmed by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. The court does not dispute the possession of cocaine as a probable cause for the arrest of Pringle and his two friends. The law requires that for any type of crime, whether a felony or a misdemeanor, there must be a probable cause to justify the arrest of a person.
Having looked at both sides, that is, of the accused and the officer, the court finds Pringle somehow guilty of possession of a dangerous substance. However, the possession of the large sum of money is considered innocuous and not a probable cause for the arrest, as stated by the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Therefore, a factor that would be considered as a probable cause for the arrest would be possession of illegal drugs.
Accordingly, the Court of Appeals of Maryland does not find enough evidence to prove the accused guilty or not guilty and, therefore, postpones the case to a later date. There is no fully established probable cause for the arrest of Pringle. Thus, the case is reversed and remanded for further findings to come up with a final judgment. The case tries to show that a person has the right to justify themselves in court if there is no probable cause for their arrest.