Chapter 9-Vehicle stops and searches Flashcards Preview

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Vehicle stops and searches rule is different because motor vehicles are mobile and can be driven away at any time, making obtaining a warrant impractical.

rule was laid out in 1925 in Carroll v United States.
Court held that the search of auto without a warrant is valid as long as probable cause is present.


requirement for a valid vehicle stop

police have reasonable suspicion,less than probable cause, of unlawful activity.


vehicle search after a valid stop is governed by a different rule.

probable cause must be present or search is invalid.


three cases decided by Court on this issue in 2004 and 2005

Unites States v Flores-Montano,2005; Thornton v United States, 2004; Illinois v Caballes, 2005


leading cases briefed in this chapter are

Carrol v Unites States, New York v Belton, United states v Ross, Wyoming v Houghton and Bond v United States


Warrantless search of automobile is valid if there exists probable cause to believe it contains contraband

Carroll v United States, 1925
officer recognizes Carroll returning to Grand Rapids from detroit, city known for illegal liquor, and have knowledge about Carroll transporting liquor illegally. chase ensued. Carroll later apprehended. search located liquor


1925 Carroll case created the so-called

automobile exception


if probable cause exists that an automobile contains contraband, a warrantless search is valid even if the auto is first moved to police station

Chambers v Maroney, 1969
Witness gave description of vehicle used in robbery. after arresting Chambers and three others, vehicle was taken to police station. search of car revealed two pistols, glove, credit cards belonging to gas station attendant. Search was valid


Court held that whether the car was seized and taken to police station and warrant obtained or searched the veh without a warrant, either course is reasonable under the 4th Amend

This case reiterates the rule that warrantless searches of vehicles are valid as long as there is probable cause even if a warrant could have been obtained.


Warrantless search of movable container found in a motor vehicle is invalid in the absence of exigent circumstances

United States v Chadwick, 1977
railroad officials in san diego observed defendant, who fit drug courier profile, loading an usually heavy footlocker, that was leaking talcum powder onto a train. DEA was notified and were waiting in Boston when train arrived. DEA used a dope dog on the footlocker before it was loaded into the trunk of car. Dog signaled the presence of marij, DEA arrested defendant who was taken to Federal Building along with the footlocker. DEA opened footlocker without warrant.


Stopping an automobile at random and without probable cause is unreasonable under 4th Amend

Delaware v Prouse, 1979
officer stopped defendant on traffic to check drivers license and registration. officer smelled mariu and seized a quanity in plain view.


police may conduct a warrantless search of passenger compartment of a car and of the contents therin if it is incident to a lawful arrest.

New York v Belton, 1981
belton was occupant in vehicle that was stopped on traffic. officer smelled marijuana and saw an envelope marked "supergold" on floor of the auto, which officer associated with marij. occupants were arrested. passenger compartment of auto an backseat was searched and found jacket belonging to Belton with cocaine in pocket


This case, Court hewed a straightforward rule, in the case of a lawful custodial arrest a full search of person is not only an exception to warrant requirement of 4th, but also a reasonable search under 4th

united States v Robinson,
lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of auto, officer may search the passenger compartment of that auto, examine the contents of any containers found within passenger compartment for if the passennger compartment is within the reach of arrestee, so also will containers in it be within his reach.


in determining reasonable suspicion to make an investigatory stop, the totality of circumstances must be taken into account

United State v Cortez, 1981
Based on footprints found over a period of time, officers concluded that groups of illegal immigrants are gathering at location to be picked up by veh.
after objective facts and circumstantial evidence observed and collected, officers justified stopping the def. Stop was good.


Totality of circumstances must yield a particularized suspicion that contain two elements that must be present before the stop can occur.

assessment of the situation must be based on an analysis of all of the circumstances
the whole picture must yield a particularized suspicion, that the individual being stopped is engaged in criminal activity.


When making a valid search of a car, the police may search the entire car and open the trunk and any package or luggage found therein that could reasonably contain the items for which probable cause to search

Unites States v Ross, 1982
tip received Ross was selling drugs from trunk of car. Warrantless arrest of Ross. Based on Ross arrest and probable cause, entire vehicle searched.


Ross case is important because it further defines the scope of police authority in vehicle searches. Belton case refused to address the issue of whether police could open the trunk of car.

However, that this authorization has limits. The police may not open large items taken from car (such as footlocker) without a warrant if there is time to obtain one.


limited search of automobile, after a valid stop, is permissible if the officer has a reasonable belief that the suspect is dangerous and might gain immediate control of a weapon

Michigan v Long, 1983
officer observed veh driving erratically at high rate of speed. veh swerved into a ditch and officer investigated. Long met officer at rear of car and appeared drunk or under influence. Long walked backt to his car and officers noticed a large hunting knife on floorboard. Long was stopped and frisked.


May officers conduct a protective search of passenger compartment of a lawfully stopped veh to look for possible weapons?

Yes. similar to pat-down search authorized by Terry v Ohio


Motor homes used on public hwy are automobiles for purposes of 4th Amend and therefoe a warrantless search is valid

California v Carney, 1985
police had info that Carney motorhomse was being used to exchange marijuana for sex. After surveillance, officers saw a youth emerged from motorhome and when questioned, youth said Carney had marijuana in veh.


Two justifications for vehicle exception come into play

1. vehicle is readily mobile
2. there is a reduced expectation of privacy stemming from the pervasive regulation of vehicle capable of traveling on hwys.


Warrantless inventory searches of the person and possessions of arrested individual are permissible under the 4th

Colorado v Bertine, 1987
Bertine arrested for DWI. Inventory search revealed drugs.


Inventory searches without a warrant of the person and possession of arrested individuals are permissible under the 4th:

1. to protect an owners property while it is under police control.
2. ensure against claimes of lost, stolen or vandalized.
3. protect police from danger


Evidence obtained from closed containers during inventory searches is not admissible in court unless authorized by dept. policy

Florida v Wells, 1989
Wells arrested for DWI. During inventory search, police found marijuana cigs butts in ashtray and locked suitcase in trunk. Police forced open the suitcase where bag full of marij.


In Wells case, inventory searches requires the suppression of the marijuana found in locked suitcase that was removed from the trunk and pried open by police if:

police department's lack of policy regarding the opening of closed containers.


Probable cause to believe that a container in an automobile holds contraband or seizable evidence justifies a warrantless search of that container even in the absence of probable cause to search the vehicle.

California v Acevedo, 1991
officers surveilling apt where marij was delivered. Acevedo was seen entering apt and shortly thereafter seen leaving the apt carrying a brown bag which was placed in trunk of car. Acevedo was stopped and trunk searched finding the marij.
This case turns to Carroll v United States.- providing rule to govern auto searches. The police may search an auto and the containers within it where they have probable cause to believe contraband or evidence is contained.


Acevedo case reverses two earlier Supreme Court rulings:

United State v Chadwick.1977- police could seize movable luggage or other closed containers but could not open them without a warrant, because a person has a heightened privacy expectation in containers.
Arkansas v Sanders,1979- Court prohibited the warrantless search of closed containers located in vehicle where there was probable cause to search only the container but not the vehicle.


Court clarifies the confusion by rejecting Chadwick and Sanders and reiterating instead the Courts ruling in two other cases:

Carroll v United States, 1925,- warrantless search of auto based on probable cause to believe that veh contained evidence of crime and in light of veh likely disappearance, did not contravene with 4th warrant clause.
United States v Ross, 1982- warrantles search of auto includes a search of closed containers found inside the car when there is probable cause to search the vehicle.


Acevedo goes one step further than Ross:

while Ross allows the warrantless search of container found in car if there is probable cause to search the car(as long as the opening of container is reasonable, given the object of the search), Acevdeo allows warrantless search of container as long as there is probable cause to do so- even if there is no probable cause to search the car.


There is no need for a warrant in vehicle searches if the vehicle is readily mobile, even if there is time to obtain a warrant.

Pennsylvania v Labron, 1996
police observed Labron and others engage in series of drug transactions on street, observing suspects retrieve drugs from trunk of car. After arresting suspects, officers search car trunk w/o warrant. Search is valid