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People vs. Santana. A brief Case Report

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Updated: Jan 12th, 2020


According to the existing record, the case in point concerns the issue of illegal transportation of marijuana across the territory of California. After the defendant was stopped for the luggage check, the police officer detected by touching the luggage that it was made of the fabrics that was usually used to conceal marijuana.

After what the defendant called “poofing,” i.e., squeezing the luggage, the officer brought the dog that was trained to detect drugs. Judging by the behavior of the dog, the officer came to the conclusion that the defendant transported illegal substance among the rest of the luggage. After the final check, marijuana was found in Santana’s luggage.

Procedural History

After the dog detected marijuana, the defendant filed a case against the search that has been carried out unconstitutionally. However, the accused filed a case in response, claiming that the actions of the police were illegal. To be more exact, the way in which police detected marijuana, i.e., squeezing, or “poofing,” of the luggage, should have been warranted.

Moreover, the defendant claimed that the transported marijuana was the admissible, i.e., “medical” type of drug. The defendant, however, pleaded guilty thereafter, which must have predetermined the outcome of the case.


  1. The key question that the jury in the given case is trying to find the answer to is whether the actions undertaken by the police officer were illegal and whether the latter should have obtained the warrant before starting the search for the illegal substances in the defendant’s luggage.
  2. In addition, it is necessary to address the current California laws on marijuana transportation and to figure out whether the given instance of drugs transportation could be considered legal or whether the case in point must be regarded as the violation of the California state laws.
  3. Finally, the issue of “poofing,” though a minor one in the given case should also be addressed. Indeed, since the police officer had no reason to search for the illegal substances in the defendant’s luggage, the actions that the former undertook can be viewed as the violations of civil liberties and, hence, should be treated accordingly and with appropriate measures undertaken.


Speaking of the key argument that Santana provided when filing his case against the police officer, one must mention that it concerned the violation of the defendant’s civil liberties. As Santana claimed, the act of searching his luggage for illegal substances was not justified in the least and, therefore, was not to be undertaken on any account.

The jury, however, considered that the steps taken by the police officer could not be considered the abuse of his power. As the jury commented on the issue, the process of search was a sensible step that served the purpose of providing safety and avoiding the instances of felony.

Judging by the given decision, it could be considered that the right of any police officer to search for the illegal substances in the luggage of literally any person without providing the warrant that commissions him/her to do so should be the holding of the court. However, due to the controversy of the nature of the given holding, it can be assumed that the court should withstand from the given holding.

To a considerable extent, the idea of conducting a search of any citizen’s luggage without providing the proper warrant should be viewed as vindication and the violation of the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, in the current Law of California, it is stated “that a lawful entry is the indispensable predicate of a reasonable search” (Ker vs. California Page 374 U. S. 53).

Speaking of the issue of marijuana transportation, it is crucial to mention that the decision undertaken by the jury was based on the current California laws.

Despite the fact that the defendant claimed the transported marijuana be medical, the jury still claimed the defendant guilty in transporting illegal substances, since even in case of medical marijuana, the amount of the transported substance is to be under (28.5 gm), the rule, which was supposedly violated by the defendant. However, it is remarkable that the case does not mention the exact amount of the marijuana that the defendant had in his luggage.

Due to the uncertainty regarding the amount of the marijuana that has been transported by the defendant, it might be considered necessary to reopen the case and re-assess the court decision. While at present, the verdict that has been passed by the jury should be regarded as the punishment for felony (Lentz), it might actually turn out that the defendant’s crime should have been viewed as a misdemeanor. However, given the information provided in the case, the total amount of marijuana is relatively large.

According to the results of the given court procedure, the verdict that the jury passed was in favor of the police officer. Finding the defendant guilty, the jury, therefore, made it clear that the process of the so-called “poofing” was justified, reasonable enough and, moreover, corresponded to the existing California state laws.

It is worth mentioning, however, that the reasonability of the further search process was questioned by the court jury. In relation to the previous court case of the similar nature, United States vs. Martin, the jury considered that the “squeezing” of the bag carried out by the police officer might be regarded as redundant.

Since in the latter case, the aspect of the lawfulness of “squeezing” was left undecided on, the “poofing” process in the given case was considered separately, yet believed to be too minor a detail to matter in the given instance. Hence, it can be concluded that the court holding in the People vs. Santana case was unbiased and fair.


It is essential to mention that the key reasoning behind the jury’s decision was focused on the fact of illegal drugs transportation. Meanwhile, the fact that the rights of the defendant might have been violated was considered rather briefly and was soon overridden by the fact that the defendant was actually transporting illegal substance, i.e., marijuana.

As for the key reasoning that the defendant provided, i.e., the fact that his luggage was tempered with and that the actions that the police officer undertook were illegal, it is noteworthy that the jury considered the actions of the police as adequate. According to the court’s decision, the act of “poofing,” or, the way it was worded in the case, “prepping” the bags was fully justified and dictated by the common sense.

As the jury put it, the act of intrusion was minimal compared to the scale of the crime committed by the defendant, i.e., the illegal transportation of marijuana. Though the laws on marijuana have become relatively loose in California (Welty), its illegal transportation is still a punishable offence. That said, it would be a mistake to consider that the Fourth Amendment was violated by the police officer, the jury concluded.

Procedural Consequences

In the light of the fact that the defendant’s claim was addressed in a very brief manner and was not considered deeply enough, the fact that the actions of the police officer could have violated the defendant’s rights were soon overshadowed by the fact that the drugs were, in fact, found among the defendant’s luggage. Hence, the appeal court affirmed the decision of the trial court in finding Santana guilty.


Rethinking the decision made by court, one must admit that the choice that the jury has made seems quite legit and complies with the existing laws to the letter. Indeed, according to the current jurisdiction, transporting marijuana within the area of California is illegal.

Therefore, there can be no possible doubt that the defendant is guilty of transporting illegal substances and, hence, must be punished properly according to the current California law on illegal drug transportation. However, addressing the given issue specifically, one must admit that the decision seems rather rushed.

To make the matter even more complicated, the exact amount of the transported marijuana is not mentioned in the case; according to the current California state laws, unless the amount of marijuana is more than an ounce (28.5 gm), the defendant should have been charged for a misdemeanor, and not a felony (Lentz para.1).

However, though the issue remains disputable, it is worth keeping in mind that transportation of marijuana is a punishable offence and that the one committing it should be prosecuted with all the rigors of the law applied.

Works Cited

Ker vs. California n. d. Web. <>.

Lentz, Jacek W. California Marijuana Laws. n. d. Web. <>.

Welty, Jeff. Making Marijuana the Lowest Law Enforcement Priority. 25 Feb. 2013. Web. <>.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'People vs. Santana. A brief Case'. 12 January.

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