Terry Searches of Motor Vehicles
Batterton, Brian. “Terry Searches of Motor Vehicles”. PATC 2014: n. pag. Print.Abstract
n 1983, the United States Supreme Court, in Michigan v. Long [i], held that officers may conduct a search of the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, limited to areas that could conceal a weapon, when there are specific, articulable facts that provide the officer with a reasonable belief that an occupant of the vehicle is dangerous and may gain immediate control of weapons. On March 19, 2014, the Court of Appeals of Georgia decided the State v. Snead [ii], which serves as an excellent example of an application of the rule from Michigan v. Long.
Question: Can a police officer remove a firearm from a vehicle without articulation that the person poses a danger? Answer: Some jurisdictions (like Georgia) require additional articulation that the suspect is not only armed, but dangerous as well.
Naverette v. California
Thomas, Clarence. “Naverette V. California”. 2014. Print.Abstract
A California Highway Patrol officer stopped a pickup truck that matched the description of a vehicle that a 911 caller had recently reported as having run her off the road. As officers approached the truck, they smelled marijuana. They searched the truck’s bed, found 30 pounds of marijuana, and arrested defendants, who moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the traffic stop violated the Fourth Amendment. The motion was denied. They pleaded guilty to transporting marijuana. The California Court of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed. The Fourth Amendment permits brief investigative stops when an officer has “a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of ... criminal activity.” Reasonable suspicion considers “the totality of the circumstances,” and depends “upon both the content of information possessed by police and its degree of reliability.” The totality of the circumstances indicated that the officer had reasonable suspicion that the truck’s driver was intoxicated. The 911 call bore adequate indicia of reliability for the officer to credit the caller’s account. The caller claimed an eyewitness basis of knowledge. The apparently short time between the reported incident and the 911 call suggests that the caller had little time to fabricate the report. A reasonable officer could conclude that a false tipster would think twice before using the 911 system. The tip created reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. Reasonable suspicion “need not rule out the possibility of innocent conduct.” The officer’s failure to observe additional suspicious conduct during the short period that he followed the truck did not dispel the reason able suspicion of drunk driving.
Who Is Secure: A Framework for Arizona v. Gant
Chase, David S. “Who Is Secure: A Framework for Arizona V. Gant”. Fordham L. Rev. 78 (2009): , 78, 2577. Print.Abstract
In April 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona v. Gant narrowed the scope of an automobile search incident to arrest. Prior to Gant, officers were permitted to search the entire automobile passenger compartment incident to the arrest of a vehicle occupant for any offense. The Gant Court rejected this broad interpretation and limited officers’ ability to search to two circumstances: (1) when an arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the vehicle or (2) when it is reasonable for officers to believe the vehicle might contain evidence related to the crime of the arrest. The Gant decision raises several new issues including the circumstances required to consider an arrestee secure. Is an arrestee considered unsecure until officers place the arrestee in a police car? Can an arrestee be considered secure if officers do not handcuff the arrestee? How many officers are required to secure an arrestee? What are the relevant factors to consider? Since the Supreme Court decided Gant, numerous lower courts have cited Gant to determine whether officers secured an arrestee prior to an automobile search incident to arrest. This Note examines how lower courts have inconsistently applied the “secure” aspect of the holding. Additionally, this Note offers a test for determining whether officers have secured an arrestee under Gant in order to clarify the inconsistency among lower courts, to ensure that defendants receive equal treatment, and to prevent confusion among law enforcement officials.