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Thread: US Supreme Court Ruling In Arizona. v Gant : vehicle searches

  1. #1
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    Well this topic has been discussed here often, with several of our resident LEOs and legal eagles to be chiming in, butyesterdays ruling in Arizona v. Gant CHANGES EVERYTHING. Searches of a vehicle after arrest, severely limited. During an arrest for traffic violation, never again. If you have been removed from the vehicle, a search warrant will be needed. Officer safety searches gone wild, JUST GONE. If you play your cards right having your vehicle searched by the police, absent a warrant will never occur. From now on when I get stopped the weapon will be in a locked case before I stop the vehicle. The days of have my weapon seized, the serial number run and being delayed by the fishing expedition of a cop are over.

    Goggle Arizona v Gant for more information. Unfortunitly the media has largely ignored this landmark ruling. The days of a traffic stop for a non-working turn signal turning into a search of the vehicle are over. No doubt the police will be slow learners, and will need a few lawsuits to educate them, but this ruling changes a lot.

    I predict we will hear all about the negative effects of this on officer safety, but the fact is that can all be eliminated by the stopped person exiting the vehicle and meeting the officer on the side of the road. Officer safety has been putahead of the 4Th amendment for far too long in this country. Those days are finally over.

    P.S. Never consent to a search of your vehicle, home, person or belongingsby the police. Yes you can NOT trust them, they are not your friend but the hand of the State.

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    Wow! I had never heard of this case before, but in the end I may like it as much as Heller! The search of a vehicle incident to arrest has always seemed like crap to me.

    From one site's analysis: (http://www.policeone.com/legal/artic...rizona-v-Gant/)
    "Five years ago, in Thornton v. United States, 541 U. S. 615 (2004), the Court recognized that a search of a vehicle incident to the arrest of a recent occupant may be also justified “when it is reasonable to believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle.” The Gant decision also leaves this holding intact. Because Gant and the other two suspects were in custody, handcuffed, and secured in separate police cars, the Court refused to apply the Chimel lunge or reaching justification to the case. And because Gant was arrested for a driver license violation, the Thornton evidentiary search holding would not apply. It was not reasonable to believe that the vehicle held evidence of Gant’s suspended driver license status."
    This is the golden ring. I have always believed that the fact that a person is in a car when they are arrested should not give the police carte blanche to go fishing for other crimes the arrested individual may have committed. This opinion affirms that.

    Plus, it's probably the first time the word "gatt" has been uttered from the bench.

    I am curious what reaction LEO229 has to this.

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    What this really does is place your vehicle on the same level as your home. For the longest time the home was considered to be paramount when it came to 4th Amendment protections. This is no longer the case.

    While the 4th Amendment had protected vehicles as well, it was most often downplayed for cars. This really for the *first* time extends basically the same levels of protections to our vehicles.

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    respectfully, I disagree....while Gant is certainly an important ruling, it does not raise vehicles to the level of a home...



    first off, the other warrant exceptions may apply, including the vehicle exception, depending on what the reason for the arrest is.





    also, it is important to note that the case didn't remotely discuss inventory searches....



    so, if the police pull you over, remove you from the car, and arrest you then for whatever reason, your car couldn't be searched incident to arrest...



    BUT:



    1) if they leave you in the car until the time of arrest they can still search the passenger compartment of your car (but not the trunk) because of the within reasonable reach rule...

    2) but, regardless, as part of your arrest they impound your car, they are going to take it back to the lot lockup AND...inventory search it...and there is nothing in Gant that stops them from doing that...



    In Gant, his car was in his driveway, so impound wouldn't fly...so inventory searches weren't at issue...



    but, what this means, if I were a cop....



    1) absent extreme safety issues, remove the suspect from the vehicle AT time of arrest, and make sure I report it as a search due to grasp and domain, NOT incident to arrest..



    2) any vehicle remotely suspicious gets impounded when the driver gets arrest....i would absolutely push the standards for impound until they got reeled in too...





    so, it isn't quite the "golden ruling"....

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    There is no legal basis period for inventory searches. It will be hard for the police to get by with searching a car and calling it an inventory search.

    Also the ruling and debate among the justicestouched on the officer safety searches. A cop always has you exit the car and then does his "officer safety check", that will NOT fly anymore. Personally it never has with me, the keys hit the floor and I hit my door locks while exiting. The officer safety issue is now poof ! Does it piss off the cops ? You bet, but I really could care less. I don't need some cop seizing my weapon and running the serial number etc.

    Lastly searching a car during a routine traffic stop is prohibited by this ruling.

    Inventory searches, they can forget it.


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    hlh wrote:
    So I guess the correct thing to do when pulled over is to immediately exit the vehicle, but I've tried this before andwas told to stay in the car by the officer.
    No I never exit without them telling me to do so, I just hit the door lock on the way out. I have a key hidden in my wallet, although the key that is concealed in the locking gas cap (has a compartment for a spare key and cash).

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    no carry permit ? wrote:
    There is no legal basis period for inventory searches. It will be hard for the police to get by with searching a car and calling it an inventory search.
    there IS legal precedent that allows inventory searches....see Florida v. Wells or South Dakota v. Opperman for just two SCOTUS cases that discuss the issue..



    i agree if police tried to do it at the scene under the auspices of an "inventory search" that it wouldn't fly....



    but if your vehicle is impounded, procedurely the contents are going to logged and inventoried, and that is certainly a way around Gant...in that instance, though, the search takes place at the impound lot, likely by the impound staff....but in that case inevitable discovery of whatever you don't want found is likely to happen





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    trio wrote:
    no carry permit ? wrote:
    There is no legal basis period for inventory searches. It will be hard for the police to get by with searching a car and calling it an inventory search.
    there IS legal precedent that allows inventory searches....see Florida v. Wells or South Dakota v. Opperman for just two SCOTUS cases that discuss the issue..



    i agree if police tried to do it at the scene under the auspices of an "inventory search" that it wouldn't fly....



    but if your vehicle is impounded, procedurely the contents are going to logged and inventoried, and that is certainly a way around Gant...in that instance, though, the search takes place at the impound lot, likely by the impound staff....but in that case inevitable discovery of whatever you don't want found is likely to happen



    +1

    I don't see how this ruling will affect inventory searches. I think this will lead to an increase in officers finding a reason to impound the car of someone who refuses consent to search after being arrested.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it common to allow a car to be picked up by a friend or relative instead of impounding it for relatively minor violations?

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    i would imagine there is different department procedure for when to impound and do an inventory search

    there is actually a New York case where the judge overturned an inventory search because she found, under the various SCOTUS cases, that there needed to be a specific procedure in place by the department on when and how to conduct the inventories

    from anecdotal experience I can say that it seems to me a lot of it is officer discretion....clearly, in many instances, if only the driver is under arrest and one of the passengers can take legal possession of the car, that is what is done...

    in other instances I have heard (and spoken directly to officers) who will allow a family member to be contacted and the car to be picked up...but I don't know for certain if a) that was based on officer discretion or b) a departmental procedure

    I would imagine, in the wake of Gant, more specific procedures will be developed by departments as the inventory search becomes more important...


    again, though, in Gant it wasn't at issue since his car was in his driveway

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    hlh wrote:
    So I guess the correct thing to do when pulled over is to immediately exit the vehicle, but I've tried this before andwas told to stay in the car by the officer.
    Exactly.

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    trio wrote:
    no carry permit ? wrote:
    There is no legal basis period for inventory searches. It will be hard for the police to get by with searching a car and calling it an inventory search.
    there IS legal precedent that allows inventory searches....see Florida v. Wells or South Dakota v. Opperman for just two SCOTUS cases that discuss the issue..



    i agree if police tried to do it at the scene under the auspices of an "inventory search" that it wouldn't fly....



    but if your vehicle is impounded, procedurely the contents are going to logged and inventoried, and that is certainly a way around Gant...in that instance, though, the search takes place at the impound lot, likely by the impound staff....but in that case inevitable discovery of whatever you don't want found is likely to happen



    In Florida v. Well the individual had been arrested for DWI and then CONSENTED TO THE SEARCH. In South Dakota v opperman there was no arrest at all, a car was impounded for illegal parking. Totally different issue. I believe you will see this ruling eliminate "inventory searches" after an arrest. One of the Justices commented that the police have long misinterrupt prior rulings regarding search of cars, and many people stopped for a simple traffic infraction have had their 4Th amendment right violated during that stop. Cops aren't going to like this ruling, but it's Constitutionally correct.

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    i've read the opinion, Inventory searches are not covered in Gant and in are no way limited by it....the examples I gave were just 2 quick ones off the top of my head in response to a statement that there was "no legal basis" for inventory searches...which, clearly, there is....

    this could easily lead to further challenges relating to inventory searches...but as of today, following Arizona v Gant, they are still intact...

    as are:

    -- the vehicle exception to the warrant requirement
    -- searches within domain and control of the occupant for officer safety

    and a number of other ways to conduct a search...

    the ONLY thing Gant limits is a search incident to arrest when the reason for the arrest does not reasonably relate to searching the vehicle...

    EDIT: I should also add that the Offerman case has become a very good guideline for what is needed for inventory searches....many circuits (the 2nd and 9th for sure) require there to be some sort of public caretaking requirement...honestly, my Lexis account is no longer active, and I don't feel like searching for cases that define the requirement in VA or the 4th Circuit....they are out there....its just not something I feel like doing with my 3 year old crawling all over me....

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    trio wrote:
    i've read the opinion, Inventory searches are not covered in Gant and in are no way limited by it....the examples I gave were just 2 quick ones off the top of my head in response to a statement that there was "no legal basis" for inventory searches...which, clearly, there is....

    this could easily lead to further challenges relating to inventory searches...but as of today, following Arizona v Gant, they are still intact...

    as are:

    -- the vehicle exception to the warrant requirement
    -- searches within domain and control of the occupant for officer safety

    and a number of other ways to conduct a search...

    the ONLY thing Gant limits is a search incident to arrest when the reason for the arrest does not reasonably relate to searching the vehicle...

    EDIT: I should also add that the Offerman case has become a very good guideline for what is needed for inventory searches....many circuits (the 2nd and 9th for sure) require there to be some sort of public caretaking requirement...honestly, my Lexis account is no longer active, and I don't feel like searching for cases that define the requirement in VA or the 4th Circuit....they are out there....its just not something I feel like doing with my 3 year old crawling all over me....

    Trio is correct, some of you are reading way too much into this. Here is the important language in Gant:

    "Ac­cordingly, we reject this reading of Belton and hold that the Chimel rationale authorizes the police to search a vehicle incident to a recent occupants arrest only when the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search.


    Although it does not follow from Chimel, we also con­clude that circumstances unique to the vehicle context justify a search incident to a lawful arrest when it is “rea­sonable to believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle.

    In many cases, as when a recent occupant is arrested for a traffic violation, there will be no reasonable basis to believe the vehicle contains relevant evidence. But in others, including Belton and Thornton, the offense of arrest will supply a basis for searching the passenger compartment of an arrestee’s vehicle and any containers therein."



    Scalia summarizes nicely in his concurrence:

    Police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occu­pant’s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching dis­tance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee’s vehicle will be unrea­sonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that an­other exception to the warrant requirement applies.



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    livitup wrote:
    Wow! I had never heard of this case before, but in the end I may like it as much as Heller! The search of a vehicle incident to arrest has always seemed like crap to me.

    From one site's analysis: (http://www.policeone.com/legal/artic...rizona-v-Gant/)
    "Five years ago, in Thornton v. United States, 541 U. S. 615 (2004), the Court recognized that a search of a vehicle incident to the arrest of a recent occupant may be also justified “when it is reasonable to believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle.” The Gant decision also leaves this holding intact. Because Gant and the other two suspects were in custody, handcuffed, and secured in separate police cars, the Court refused to apply the Chimel lunge or reaching justification to the case. And because Gant was arrested for a driver license violation, the Thornton evidentiary search holding would not apply. It was not reasonable to believe that the vehicle held evidence of Gant’s suspended driver license status."
    This is the golden ring. I have always believed that the fact that a person is in a car when they are arrested should not give the police carte blanche to go fishing for other crimes the arrested individual may have committed. This opinion affirms that.

    Plus, it's probably the first time the word "gatt" has been uttered from the bench.

    I am curious what reaction LEO229 has to this.
    I was made aware of this at work so the word is getting around.

    IMPO.... it will not have all that much impact on how we do business.

    Most often... searching a car after an arrest involves a traffic stop. The car needs to be towed from the roadway and LE is now responsible for logging down all items of value by doing an inventory.

    Often times we find guns, cash, checks, jewelry, or other high dollar items. They are taken to the station for safekeeping. Because we are forcing the owner to leave his car unattended we have to make sure his valuables are not stolen after the car is towed. So there are other ways a search will happen.

    The officer can search the car BEFORE the arrest if he has some reason but not AFTER since the guy cannot get to the weapon he may have been hiding.

    While I understand the ruling.... it is not a cure all fix. It is only intended to prevent a search for weapons after there is really no need to search. I can understand that.

    It was always classified as a "search incident to an arrest"

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