The officer saw a plastic baggie on the console with the corner torn off. Coupled with that, it was a reasonable inference that the passenger seat was reclined to conceal evidence. They added up to probable cause. State v. Howard, 2017 Kan. LEXIS 106 (March 10, 2017), aff’g 51 Kan. App. 2d 28, 339 P.3d 809 (2014):
… We conclude that it was fair for the officer in this case to infer from the passenger’s action of reclining her seat that she was trying to hide something from his view. This inference adds to the likelihood that the car contained contraband, helping to establish probable cause.
Other courts have similarly held that reclined car seats can add to a probable cause analysis. See United States v. Montgomery, 527 F.3d 682, 686 (8th Cir. 2008) (probable cause to support search warrant supported in part because passenger reclined seat upon entering car in apparent effort to hide from anyone watching the car); United States v. Johnson, No. 14-CR-130, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159729, 2014 WL 5860478, at *4 (D. Minn. 2014) (unpublished opinion) (driver had reclined seat when officer approached car, leading officer to believe defendant was hiding incriminating evidence and helping to establish probable cause); Stroud v. State, 286 Ga. App. 124, 126-27, 648 S.E.2d 476 (2007) (probable cause to search vehicle supported in part by officer’s observation that driver of parked car was leaned all the way back in seat and appeared to be attempting to hide); State v. Eady, No. C.C.A. 263, 1989 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 162, 1989 WL 19674, at *2 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1989) (unpublished opinion) (probable cause to arrest furnished in part by fact that driver and passenger had seats reclined below the window in parked car, apparently attempting to avoid detection).