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Car searches revisted by Supreme Court...what does this mean?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Mr.V., Jun 18, 2007.

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  1. Mr.V.

    Mr.V. Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/19/w...rss&adxnnlx=1182219011-0bI7hg3NgRkgZB9ZUQaMQQ
    So my big question is...if you do get stopped for something like a broken tail-light or the driver is in violation of registration, does this still mean you are okay to be searched as a passenger?

    These sentences were a bit confusing...
    Does that mean, "you've got a broken tail-light, so I can search you for methamphetamines?"
    I'm curious as to what is allowed at a stop especially given this new decision by the Supreme Court...
     
  2. Outlaws

    Outlaws Member

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    A broken taillight gives the officer authority to ask everyone out of the vehicle, and even pat you down to make sure you have no weapons. But to search the vehicle or your personal belongings (backpacks, etc) is not included in that without reasonable cause, driver or passenger. You can say no, then listen to him get mad and threaten you, but you can still say no. Remember, a lot of this is being captured on his cruisers video camera.
     
  3. Johannes_Paulsen

    Johannes_Paulsen Member

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    It means that if you are a passenger of a car that is pulled over for probable cause, and you are searched (and later tried for some offense resulting from that search,) you have the right to challenge the fruits of that search in court. The California Sup. Ct. held that you could not do this, under the rather absurd theory that when the car was stopped, although the driver of the car was "seized", you as a passenger were free to walk away.
     
  4. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    Outlaws said;
    Not quite. For a Terry frisk the officer must be able to articulate a belief that criminal activity is going on and that there is a reason to pat the occupants down for weapons. A broken taillight isn't a very reliable indicator that the occupants of the vehicle are involved in criminal activity. There usually has to be something more.

    In November of 2003 the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that an officer must be able to articulate a belief that the passengers in an automobile are involved in criminal activity before they can require them to present ID and run them through LEADS and NCIC.

    Jeff
     
  5. 209

    209 Member

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    I haven't had too many folks bail out of cars I've stopped. I work in a quiet area.

    The times I can remember- the end results netted:

    Drugs;
    Drugs;
    Outstanding Warrant;
    Drugs and a gun:
    Drugs and an outstanding warrant;
    Drugs, warrant and illegal weapon;

    and a few more drugs.

    Kind of a common thread runs through the whole "bailing out" action. I don't think I ever had anyone bail that wasn't what was labeled "Ridin' Dirty" by the rap song recently released by Chamillionaire.
     
  6. Kentak

    Kentak Member

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  7. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    This is as good an explanation as I've seen:

    http://patc.com/weeklyarticles/brendlinVcalifornia.shtml
     
  8. Sage of Seattle

    Sage of Seattle Member

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    Can someone explain this last part to me, because it seems like quite a leap from what I understood the case to be and these conclusions.

    And here's a hypothetical for any police officer out there in THRland: if you pull over my friend who's driving his car and I decide to get out and start walking, what would you do? I would imagine that you'd have to have some sort of articulable reason to detain me, yes? I'm not talking about a rapid bailout.... just when my friend stops the car, I'd open the door and start walking away. I would think that I could have done this before based on 4th amendment rules of me being seized -- now, according to the article that Jeff just posted, I'd be seized and subjected to search merely because I was in the same vehicle as a person who was pulled over for a traffic violation (alleged).

    Could someone clarify for me?
     
  9. waterhouse

    waterhouse Member

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    Sage, reasonable suspicion isn't a very high burden.

    Based on the officer's training and experience, a passenger getting out of a car at a traffic stop and walking away would probably constitute RS. There might be more to it than that . . .
     
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