Maryland v. Pringle

  • Uncategorized

Maryland V. Pringle

Police officers help in enforcing law and arresting individuals whoviolate the legal requirements. Inspections are conducted onindividuals, and vehicles to ensure that illegal actions areeliminated. The paper evaluates a case that involved arrest ofpassengers by the police officers.

Case Facts

On August 7th, 1999, Maryland police officers stopped anover speeding car at about 3.16 am. Three men including the driver bythe name Partlow, and two passengers, Pringle and Smith, were in thecar. Partlow opened the glove box after the police officer requestedfor his registration and a large quantity of cash was revealed. Thepolice officer further investigated the car to ensure that its statuswas as expected by the traffic law, but no issues were found. Thesearch, however, led to the identification of certain amounts ofdrugs in the car. Pringle, one of the vehicle passengers, was laterassociated with the drugs. Before getting a confession out ofPringle, the officer found the drugs hidden between the backseat’sarmrest. The three men in the vehicle first declined any knowledgeconcerning the ownership of the drugs. Subsequently, they werearrested and questioned at the police station. Pringle claimed thathe owned the drugs and the other car occupants were not aware ofthem.

Legal Issues

The major legal issue, in this case, includes whether theidentification of drugs in a vehicle should cause arrest of itsoccupants if ownership is not justified. Another issue extending fromthe case is whether the accomplished arrest hinders an individual’slegal protection from unreasonable investigations and seizures asincluded in the Fourth Amendment.

Pringle was convicted of drug possession by the trial court, but heappealed arguing that there did not exist any feasible reason for hisarrest. As a result, his confession was inadmissible and should besuppressed (Oyez 2017). Pringle made a pleading to the courtthat the incident was a mere guilt by association because therelacked individualized suspicion meaning that the owner of the drugscould have been any of the vehicle’s occupants. The conviction wasreversed, but the Supreme Court later held it.

Ruling and Rationale

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the arrest. Thejudgment showed that the capture was not against the constitutionalrequirement because a probable cause in relation to the Pringle’scapture was evident. The court claimed that, since the police officercould not know the owner of the drugs, his actions to arrest thethree men are justifiable. The police officer had a reason to holdthe assumption that any or all of the occupants possessed the drugs.Based on the argument, enough probable cause to suspect and arrestPringle for owning the identified drugs was established by the court.The court supported that, it was reasonable to assert that the policeofficer`s actions were necessary. The small area of the car increasedthe chance that its occupants were engaged in the same enterprisewith the driver of the car and indeed shared the same interests. Alarger area would limit the probable cause to institute an arrestagainst any individual. The court gave the reasoning that Pringleaccomplished the crime of owning cocaine and the probable cause tocapture him was valid.

In conclusion, police officers are required to arrest individualsfound in a vehicle transporting drugs. The passengers are supposed toaccount why the drug crime is accomplished in their presence. In mostcases, one of the vehicle’s occupants is likely to be linked to thecrime. Police officers have the mandate to monitor activities ofpeople to ensure law and order.


– Amicus Merits. The United States Departmentof Justice. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from

. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved March 11, 2017,from

. American Civil Liberties Union. RetrievedMarch 11, 2017, from