; Automobile Searches _ Container Searches
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Automobile Searches _ Container Searches


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									Criminal Procedure Handout #15 Automobile Searches & Container Searches Moveable Container Searches Outside of Automobiles U.S. v. Chadwick (Sup Ct 1977)[p. 349] o PO had p/c that footlocker contained contraband, i.e. illegal drugs Sup Ct upheld seizure of it but not search of it

Professor Beres Spring 2007

Rationale: o Warrantless seizure allowed: Inherent mobility of luggage etc, i.e. could be moved before PO obtained SW o Warrantless search not allowed: Mobility not an issue once seized; require search warrant to open b/c privacy interest outweighs law enforcement interest o Exception:  Exigent circumstances so need to open quickly  Ex: p/c contains bomb etc Automobile Exception Carroll v. U.S. (Sup Ct 1925)[p. 340] Facts: o During Prohibition POs had p/c that Carroll’s car contained illegal liquor o Stopped car & searched o Found large number bottles hidden behind upholstery Sup Ct upheld car search Rationale: o Mobility of vehicle o once suspect aware of police presence, car & suspect may disappear w/ evidence o Reasonable b/c not practicable to get SW b/c car / evidence / suspect could be gone before do so Why not allow only a warrantless seizure of car in such circumstances? Chambers v. Maroney (Sup Ct 1970)[p. 342] Facts: o POs had p/c that suspects in car robbed gas station earlier o Stopped car & arrested o Took car to police station o Searched car & found evidence of robbery Why wasn’t the search permitted under SITA?


What is D’s argument re: why should be outside scope of Automobile Exception? Sup Ct upholds search under Auto exception Rationale? Suppose change facts: o 3 males - not 4 o red station wagon o blue sweater in car o no trenchcoat o POs stop car and arrest them o Take car to police station o Find same evidence of crime as in actual case Same result? Why or why not? Coolidge v. New Hampshire (Sup Ct 1971) [p. 344] Facts o POs obtained AW for Coolidge & SW for car (but invalid ) o Car parked in C’s driveway o POs arrested C in home & seized car o Searched days (& also months) later at station Plurality held auto exception did not apply Rationale? Why wasn’t this permitted under SITA? Cardwell v. Lewis (Sup Ct 1974) [p. 345] o Lewis was being interviewed by police at station o arrested him o Lewis’ car was parked in public parking lot o POs seized it & did warrantless search Plurality upheld search Rationale: o Public vs private property o Other Motor Homes California v. Carney (Sup Ct 1985)[p. 346] Rationale for allowing search? o Reduced expectation of privacy in automobile Circumstances where result may be different?


Residence vs. Vehicle [p. 348]: Relevant factors include o Location? o Licensed as vehicle? o Connected to utilities? o Convenient access to public road? Also o Readily mobile or stationary? Example: o Ariel has mobile home in trailer park o Pays monthly rental for lot o 1000 ft from an outside road o valid license to drive it o no tires on it / up on blocks o paid monthly rental fee in park Same result as in Carney? Why or why not?

Containers in Cars California v. Acevedo (Sup Ct 1991) [p. 350] Holding: [p. 355] “The police may search an automobile and the containers within it where they have p/c to believe contraband or evidence is contained”

So if p/c that car has evidence or contraband, then can do warrantless search of car and containers in car o So long as area searching is capable of holding such evidence o Search must end when no longer have p/c

Case #1 o PO has p/c Ariel has gun in suitcase o Waits until she puts it in car o Can search suitcase w/o warrant under Auto exception Case #2 o PO has p/c only after suitcase is put in car o Can search suitcase w/o warrant under Auto exception Rationale?


Timing of Search Any time limit on when have to do search of automobile or containers? o No strict time limit o OTOH may be able to show unreasonable search if delay adversely affected possessory or privacy interest

Wyoming v. Houghton (Sup Ct 1999)[p. 358] Sup Ct upheld search of passenger’s purse / containers under automobile exception Only need to show o p/c that contraband is in the car o container must be capable of holding item looking for, i.e. “that may conceal the object of the search” Rationale: o reduced expectation of privacy for property in cars for driver and passengers o OTOH recognizes higher expectation of privacy in your person [See also p. 360: discussion of how passenger is often “engaged in common criminal enterprise” with driver etc] NOTE: Automobile exception” includes other vehicles or modes of transportation such as boats, planes etc Summary of Automobile Exception o can apply to other vehicles o Ex: boats, trucks etc if inherently mobile / can be moved  Ct reads this very broadly  OTOH if vehicle is more like home than car then not mobile  Ex: Mobile home hypo Requires: o p/c to do search, i.e. p/c that vehicle contains seizable items o once have p/c can search anywhere in car that items searching for could be found Re: Containers in vehicle o don’t need p/c that container searched actually has what looking for o just need p/c o its somewhere in car, and o container is capable of holding object of search, i.e. object police have p/c to search for o applies to container in car which are owned by either o driver, or o passenger o and p/c related to driver allows police to look in containers belonging to passengers o But appears cannot search person or containers on person in car


RQ: What if POs know that evidence is in particular container o i.e. if know beforehand that container has what they are looking for Can they look elsewhere in the car? In theory no b/c they know that what they are looking for is not elsewhere  so underlying rationale of Houghton would be missing  i.e. that POs can’t always tell where evidence will be among containers etc Example: Suppose POs get info from reliable informant that  at midnight Ace will  leave specific house  carrying 2 brown paper bags  put them in white van  bags contain MJ plants POs go to that address and  at midnight see Ace leaving that house  carrying 2 brown paper bags  loads them into white van Before pulls out POs stop him and search entire car  find MJ plants in nursery bags in back seat  look in trunk and find 6 speed capsules If Ace makes motion to suppress all evidence  says illegal search of bags  says illegal search of trunk Q: How is Ct likely to rule?  search of bags is OK b/c had p/c to believe car contained MJ plants; specifically knew were in bags  search of trunk is not OK b/c no longer have p/c to believe evidence of crime in car  can only search rest of car under Automobile Exception if p/c exists to do so; here p/c arguably no longer present So still some limits on what can search  are ltd by p/c determination as to where and when look [However troubling b/c POs may try to argue still had p/c b/c other “fruits” of MJ delivery could be in car etc ]



How does the Automobile exception differ from SITA? o For auto exception o Need p/c that car contains evidence of a crime o If p/c contraband in car can search anywhere contraband could be, including containers & trunk o If p/c contraband in container only can search container o For SITA o need p/c to arrest occupant or recent occupant of car o can search accessible passenger compartment of car including containers therein


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