I had one of our officers call me. He asked a search and seizure question that had been posed to him by another agency's officers. I decided to run it by the esteemed members of this forum:
Informant cooperating with investigators (also facing criminal charges) meets with her arresting officer, at his request, in a parking lot. The arresting officer is interested in trading a little sex in return for not filing the charges. The investigators have other information regarding this officer (My Space page, etc.) that lead them to believe he might be prone to bad behavior. When the arresting officer shows up, they don't arrest him, but let him get himself home (80 miles) however he can because they seize his vehicle (hoping it has usable evidence in it). They arrest him on a warrant a few days later. They hold the seized vehicle for three days while they go fishing and then get a search warrant.
My officer thinks the search is hinky--so do I. What are your thoughts. I know that securing something which the officer has PC to believe contains evidence while the officer gets a warrant can be OK. But in this case (a) they just hoped the car had evidence in it; and (b) three days(?).
If I understand properly, this is not even a close case. To permit such conduct would turn S & S law on its head. Anything found can't justify the search. The complete lack of P-C and the delay would render the S & S unreasonable. Tell me there was consent. Or please tell me I misread the facts.
The way my officer described it--no, there was no consent. It was just seized by the officers! And from what my officer described, they didn't really have strong articulable suspicion there was evidence in the car. Of course, they found some--or this wouldn't be a big issue.
First, was the car a city-issued vehicle by any chance?
Second, a clearer description of what facts the police had would be helpful. All they need is PC to search the car. Was the plan to have sex in the car? Might not there have been evidence supporting the victim's story in the car?
As for the 3-day wait, that may not be an insurmountable problem. Florida v. Meyers, 466 U.S. 380, 104 S.Ct. 1852, 80 L.Ed.2d 381 (1984); United States v. Johns, 469 U.S. 478, 105 S.Ct. 881, 83 L.Ed.2d 890 (1985) (finding that packages seized from the Defendant's trunk but not searched until three days later was a permissible delay and valid warrantless search as the items could have been searched at the time of the automobile search as the automobile search was based on probable cause which extended to the packages).
In Cooper v. California, 386 U.S. 58, 87 S.Ct. 788, 17 L.Ed.2d 730 (1967), it was held that a delay of a week in the search of an automobile that had been seized as evidence pursuant to a state statute was not invalid for lack of a warrant.
Especially the city-owned car!!
I was swift to find the action improper -- I guess the hunch did it. And the caselaw on delay can't overcome any lack of P-C. As you suggest, though, maybe other facts can help out.
I have a call into the officer to ask him if the suspect was in a city-owned car. As for PC the car contained evidence, I got the impression from the questioning officer that they really didn't have anything more than a good hope, but I will double check on that as well.
Thanks for the input--keep it coming!
OK, according to my officer the suspect was in his personal vehicle--not his city vehicle, and the investigating officers who seized the vehicle had--at most--wishful thinking. In other words, no PC.
I dont' think they have a leg to stand on with this one.
Did the girl informant say they had sex in his car?
There must have been some reason to think there might be evidence in his car. What was their wishful thinking based on?
Apprarently, they met to discuss his proposition, but she never got into his vehicle because the officers observing the pair popped out and seized it first. The officers knew that he used a computer to post his stuff on My Space and evidently "hoped" that he would have a laptop or other incriminating evidence of his transgressions in car--but no concrete evidence on which to hang PC.
"Well, Your Honor, although it was his private vehicle he was purporting to be on official business in that parking lot. Ergo, the vehicle that took him out on that mission was temporarily transformed into a state vehicle because [presumably] he indicated that it could be used to transport a suspect in custody."
Then turn red as people in the courtroom giggle, and sit down.
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