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Has anyone been able to read a copy of today's opinion in Arizona v. Gant? The links on the SCOTUS website and SCOTUSblog aren't working for me. From the news articles summarizing the decision, this sounds bad. Apparently officers can no longer search a car after the arrest is made? This seems like a big limitation on an exception we use quite a bit. I'm interested to read the actual opinion, since everyone knows you can't trust newspapers anymore.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I'm wondering if it applies only to searches incident to arrest, meaning we still have the inventory exception at least.
 
Posts: 1115 | Location: Waxahachie | Registered: December 09, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here's a link.

Having not read it, I can't say if it's bad. But if it's saying that you can't search a compartment of a car once the defendant is arrested and no longer in the car, then I'm not surprised. There does seem to be a diminished safety concern in that circumstance. Still, it is an exception we use quite a bit, as you note.

[This message was edited by David Newell on 04-21-09 at .]
 
Posts: 1243 | Location: houston, texas, u.s.a. | Registered: October 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The link works ok for me. Here is the holding:

quote:
Police may search the passenger compartment of a vehicle incident to a recent occupant�s arrest only if it is reasonable to believe that the arrestee might access the vehicle at the time of the search or that the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.


Its not an outright prohibition on that kind of search and, here in Texas, we still get our inventory.
 
Posts: 105 | Location: Galveston, Tx. | Registered: May 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think the first part of the exception is pretty useless, though. When is the vehicle still going to be within the defendant's reach when he's arrested? The defendant's always removed from the vehicle by then. You're pretty much going to be relying on the PC part of it.

Overall, I think it could be worse, especially since we still have inventory, but it'll cause a lot of confusion among the police for a while.
 
Posts: 1115 | Location: Waxahachie | Registered: December 09, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Perhaps officers will have to start carrying tape measures as their proximity to the car at the time of the arrest seems to be important. 10 feet is too far. 5 feet? Can you reach it now? Can you reach it now?

I agree with Andrea, I don't see how police are ever really going to be able to utilize this exception (a fact SCOTUS even notes). Perhaps if they want to search they should refrain from handcuffing the defendant and calling for backup. That seems to be the rare circumstances that SCOTUS envisions.

[This message was edited by David Newell on 04-21-09 at .]
 
Posts: 1243 | Location: houston, texas, u.s.a. | Registered: October 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Consent, probable cause, inventory. Those are all still justifications.

And the key opinion to read is Scalia, as his concurring opinion provides the majority vote determining the outcome.

Looks like, as Scalia suggests, the 4-1-4 decision encourages officers to delay the arrest of an individual to retain the safety justification for searching the vehicle absent consent, probable cause or inventory. Ongoing fear that unarrested driver could gain access is that justification.

Drug dogs should be happy. This decision makes them all the more valuable.

[This message was edited by JB on 04-21-09 at .]

[This message was edited by JB on 04-21-09 at .]

[This message was edited by JB on 04-21-09 at .]

[This message was edited by JB on 04-21-09 at .]
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yeah, not about the Austin part, about the mulitple justifications that still exists part. And I'm relieved to read that part of SCOTUS'S justification for this re-imagining of Belton was the fully fleshed out exceptions set out in United States v. Ross (automobile exception) and Michigan v. Long (Terry pat-down of car). This suggests to me that those exceptions are not in any danger from this opinion.
 
Posts: 1243 | Location: houston, texas, u.s.a. | Registered: October 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm curious now, after rereading the opinion, about the second part of that exception. The "reason to believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle." Why the term "reason to believe" rather than probable cause? Does that mean that we have a lower standard of proof?

Of course, this is limited only to evidence of the "crime of arrest" -- you still need PC for evidence of any other crime you think there might be evidence of. But it could still be interesting.
 
Posts: 1115 | Location: Waxahachie | Registered: December 09, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You still have inventory and that right to inventory.

It is the effect of law enforcement on folks not doing anything that causes this to manifest.

It is a good thing. Otherwise it is a fishing expedition and no one is deserving of fishing.

So many times traffic stops become more serious cases i.e. dwi suspicion etc after a broad search is made.

Officers need to protect themselves period. But we must admit, this is a game out there. This ruling makes good sense and protects the citizen who makes a mistake, grandfather lets grandson use his car unbeknownst to grandson that gp had spilled his prescription medicine and failed to notice one.

We have to be tough, we have to be fair! We must get the bad guys, not the accidental unlucky.

Prosecutors have enough on their hands than to have to figger out offense reports devised with imaginative wordings, things should be clear cut for the prosecutor. The prosecutor has more to do than worry about protecting the integrity of law enforcement with designer innovations of application.

Lets put the bad guys in jail and let this continue to be a good place to live.

Just a dinosaur
 
Posts: 6 | Location: angleton tx usa | Registered: April 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Reasonable belief is below probable cause, if pc were needed then there would be no vehicle searches.

Reasonable belief by a prudent officer is that which causes him to glance, not aggress. The findings of his glance support his glance and thus pc manifests.

No I am not instructing nor trying to, I apologize if it sounds like I am. I am not a prosecutor but a former investigator who has seen all 3 sides, prosecution, officer and prosecutor.

PC is almost never immediate, it is evolved, even if very quickly. As long as that officer has a right to be where he is reasonable belief is a good thing, sounds better than reasonable suspicion but likely the same thing.

Curious, is the traffic stop of a DWI suspect PC or reasonable suspicion? Would other factors develop from it being reasonable to believe something is wrong as the vehicle is weaving? The stop then leads to other factors leading into PC for DWI , or it doesnt.

Just a dinosaur
 
Posts: 6 | Location: angleton tx usa | Registered: April 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My understanding has always been that you should never need a search warrant for a vehicle. If you have probable cause and the vehicle is "readily mobile", you have no need for a warrant. I've also been taught that "readily mobile" doesn't mean that the vehicle is on the roadside and could be driven away immediately, just that it could be moved at all (including if it is in an impound yard).

Someone correct me if I am wrong.
 
Posts: 95 | Location: Marble Falls, TX USA | Registered: October 29, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You're right, but part of that broader understanding was based on an exception to the warrant requirement allowing a search of the vehicle incident to arrest. That exception was set out in Belton. Thanks to Gant, the holding in Belton has now been re-imagined.

But in those circumstances where you have probable cause to search the vehicle for contraband, the automobile exception should still get you where you need to go. Gant doesn't appear to erode that exception to the warrant requirement.

In contrast, if, as John mentions below, you arrest the defendant for an offense, but you don't have probable cause to believe there's contraband in the car, you can't search the car incident to arrest. However, you still may be allowed to search pursuant to an inventory of the vehicle.

[This message was edited by David Newell on 04-22-09 at .]
 
Posts: 1243 | Location: houston, texas, u.s.a. | Registered: October 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You need probable cause that the vehicle contains contraband or evidence. So, if you stop a car and smell dope, you can search the car for dope. On the other hand, if you stop a car on traffic and find the driver has a warrant for failure to appear, you can arrest him but you don't have probable cause the car contains anything, so no search (under the automobile exception).
 
Posts: 2133 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I just can't get excited about the SCOTUS simply reminding us what the rationale for search incident to arrest is and holding us to that standard. It is an exception to the preference for warrants, and it has limits. Those limits have not been re-defined by the SCOTUS in Gant; they already existed. Chimel set them out.

IMHO, Post-Belton, prosecutors, law enforcement, and the courts have taken unjustified liberties with the language of Chimel. While some are saying that Belton has been overruled, I think it is more accurate to assert that it has been confined to prevent the overreaching that has occurred over time. None of the other exceptions to the warrant requirement are really implicated--except to the extent the caselaw needs to be faithful to the underlying rationale for them too.

Do I just not get it?

JAS
 
Posts: 586 | Location: Denton,TX | Registered: January 08, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I appreicate the reminder. It's the having it both ways that irritates me. If it's that bad, overrule it. If not, leave it alone.
 
Posts: 1243 | Location: houston, texas, u.s.a. | Registered: October 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hmmmmmmm. I guess I'm missing something!

I get from the Gant opinion that the majority is saying Belton has been wrongly interpreted, not wrongly decided. Yes, for the purpose of providing officers with a bright line rule in the field, Scalia would ditch Belton and Thornton so as to eliminate the officer safety prong of the exception. Surely we don't really want that?

JAS

[This message was edited by JAS on 04-22-09 at .]
 
Posts: 586 | Location: Denton,TX | Registered: January 08, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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John, I tend to agree with you. I've never understood how the incident to arrest exception let you search a car the defendant couldn't get to anymore. I think this will cause some major short-term headaches in retraining and handling the cases where officers already relied on the exception, but I don't have a problem with the legal reasoning. (I DO think that if not Belton, at least Thornton was certainly overruled by Gant. I wish the Court would be more honest about that instead of pretending "no, this is what we've ALWAYS said!")

osiyo, I know the test for reasonable suspicion, but I'm curious of the distinction for reasonable belief. I don't know if they were using it as a synonym for RS or some standard slightly higher than RS but lower than PC. I don't think it'll really matter in the long run, but it's an interesting academic question.
 
Posts: 1115 | Location: Waxahachie | Registered: December 09, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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No, I don't think you're missing something. Any frustration (and I'm not really that frustrated) I have with the opinion is what Andrea alluded to about the Court needing to be a little more honest with what they were doing.
 
Posts: 1243 | Location: houston, texas, u.s.a. | Registered: October 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Is this case retroactive?
 
Posts: 16 | Registered: January 09, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think you are right Andrea, there used to be kindergarten but no more, there once was junior high but now middle school.

While I have done my fair share of "grazing", officers have been too loose with the search of automobiles. The Constitution and applicable case law is always being stretched, maybe tested.

From what I read nothing has changed, but then I am maybe not the best reader of words.

The whole idea from Terry was to disallow the destruction of evidence, Chimel , where did that go?

Officers must protect themselves, citizens must be free from unwarranted intrusion. It is a game that must be played.

Reasonable belief, reasonable suspicion, whats the difference? Belief seems a cut above suspicion, belief is a more firm position than hmmm maybe so. Maybe Hmmm probably is reasonable suspicion, but then we no longer have kindergarten.

Course now remember I am a cop not a prosecutor but there are other things involved, there is a rule to be followed that generally disallowed trouble and that was to give all the benefit of a doubt and if needed, if they go crazy go crazy with them.

People get too carried away with words. Imagine a cop at a stop with this new info, new words, not knowing and not studying these new things can be a problem especially if he might have heard of this new decision.

Someone said it, new training. Getting together of prosecutor and the officers, thats where it is, both sets of thoughts coming to common ground versus two distinct enforcers doing it their way totally and then getting the prosecutor pidgeon dropped with figuring out new angles from the new manner in which the officers is articulating his report.

I dont know if I have said anything or not lol. But I have seen as many vehicle searches as anyone and thus seen 3 times as many articulations of acts by the officers trying to fit what something new said into their report.

If you have to decide reasonable suspicion or reasonable belief at a later date then you had no reasonable belief and certainly no pc.

Just a dinosaur
 
Posts: 6 | Location: angleton tx usa | Registered: April 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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