Justia Lawyer Rating
Best Lawyer
Super Lawyer - Top 100
Super Lawyer - Top 100
Best Lawyers
Avvo Rating 10.0
AV Preeminent
The National Trial Lawyers
The Best Lawyers in America
Best Lawyers
CLEA
Advocates for Justice
Business North Carolina Legal Elite - 2021
DUI Defense
NBTA
*For additional information regarding the criterion for inclusion or membership for lawyer associations, awards, & certifications click image for link.

Criminal Procedure Outline - Professor Fields - Campbell Law - Part 3

By Justin B. Lockett
Professor Fields - Fall 2020

Download the PDF version of this outline

<< Part 2 | Part 4 >>

Exceptions to Search Warrants

General Rule; Katz v. United States: Warrantless searches are unreasonable per se and are subject to only a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.

Exigent Circumstances: No warrant is needed for a search if one of the following apply:

  • Hot Pursuit: Chase began in public can continued into a private place.
  • The other Three: Reasonable cause to believe that if no immediate entry that:
    • Evidence: Evidence will be destroyed.
    • Escape: Suspect will escape.
    • Harm: Harm will result to police or others inside or outside the building.
  • Factors: (1) Gravity of the harm AND (2) the likelihood that the suspect is armed.
    • Example; Warden v. Hayden: Speed was essential in this search, and a thorough search of the house was the only way to ensure that Hayden was the only man on the premises and that all weapons which could be used against the police or to effect an escape were identified.
  • Exception; Police Created Exigency Rule: Under this doctrine, police may not rely on the need to prevent destruction of evidence when that exigency was created or manufactured by the conduct of the police.
    • Kentucky v. King: The exigent circumstances rule applies when police do not gain entry to premises by means of an actual or threatened violation of the 4th Amendment.
Search Incident too a Lawful Arrest
  • Person and Lunge Area; Chimel v. United States: A police officer, upon arrest, may search (1) the arrestee’s person and (2) the area “within his immediate contro.”—construing that phrase to mean the areas from within which he might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence.
    • Reasoning: A gun on a table or in a drawer in front of one who is arrested can be as dangerous to the arresting officer as one concealed in the clothing of the person arrested. You cannot use this rule to search the persons whole house though, and it only applies to the immediate area where the arrest physically happens.
  • Expanding Chimel; United States v. Robinson: The polices’ right to search incident to a lawful arrest of an arrestee’s person is automatic, and no probable cause or reasonable suspicion is required.
  • Arrest Inventory Searches: An officer may search the arrestee’s person as part of the “inventory” process at the police station (typically involves opening physical containers). This rule helps protect the arrestee’s valuables while in jail and reduces the risk of false claims of theft by the arrestee.
  • Other Confederates; Maryland v. Buie: If the arrest occurs in a home, the police may also conduct a warrantless search of “closets and other spaces immediately adjoining the place of arrest for persons who might be hiding from which an attack could be immediately launched.”
  • Cell Phones; Riley v. California: The Court declined to extend Robinson to searches of data on cell phones, and held instead that officers must generally secure a warrant before conducting a search.
    • Reasoning: Cell phones place vast quantities of personal information literally in the hands of individuals, and yields far more information than the search of even a person’s house would. Plus, the data can be stored by disconnecting the phone from the network or putting it in a faraday bag.
    • Balancing Test: The Court generally determines whether to exempt a given type of search from the warrant requirement by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to which it intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and, on the other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests.
  • Breath Tests; Birchfield v. North Dakota: Warrantless breath tests, incident to a lawful arrest, are per se constitutional. The court balanced the privacy interest of the individual against the interest of the government in combatting drunk driving.
    • But Not Blood Tests: The Court also held that warrantless blood tests are not justifiable as an incident to a lawful arrest. Blood tests are more intrusive, as humans don’t bleed as much as they breath.
    • But see Mitchell v. Wisconsin: When a driver is unconscious and cannot be given a breath test, the exigent circumstances doctrine generally permits a blood test without a warrant (destruction of evidence).
Arrest of Automobile Occupants; The Automobile Exception
  • New York v. Belton: When a policeman has made a lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of an automobile, he may, as a contemporaneous incident of that arrest, search the passenger compartment of that automobile. Police may also examine the contents of any containers found within the passenger compartment, for if the passenger is within reach of the arrestee, so also will containers in it be within his reach.
    • Citationee v. Arrestee: Belton does not apply when only a citation issued, only when an arrest is made.
    • Virginia v. Morre: If state law does not authorize custodial arrests, it’s still a lawful arrest for 4th Amendment analysis. A search conducted as an incident of such arrest, therefore, satisfies the 4th Amendment.
    • Thornton v. United States: Extended Belton to apply to individuals who have just stepped out of their car when police arrest them.
  • Limiting Belton; Arizona v. Gant: 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.

Pretextual Stops; Whren v. United States: The subjective motivations of the police officer in pulling over a motorist are irrelevant to the determination of whether probable cause existed or whether any 4th Amendment violation has occurred.

Automobile Searches; Cars and Containers
  • Carrol v. United States; Mobility Rationale: Carroll holds a search warrant unnecessary where there is probable cause to search an automobile stopped on the highway; the car is movable, the occupants are alerted, and the car’s contents may never be found again if a warrant must be obtained. Hence, an immediate search is constitutionally permissible.
    • Automobile Exception: Officers only need probable cause to search a vehicle provided the vehicle was “mobile” at the time of the seizure. No warrant is required.
    • When the Car is Moved to the stationhouse; Chambers v. Maroney: “Here, the blue station wagon could have been searched on the spot when it was stopped since there was probable cause to search and it was a fleeting target for a search. The probable cause factor still existed at the station house and so did the mobility of the car unless the Fourth Amendment permits a warrantless seizure of the car and the denial of its use to anyone until a warrant is secured.
      • Reasoning: “For constitutional purposes, we see no difference between on the one hand seizing and holding a car before presenting the probable cause issue to a magistrate and on the other hand carrying out an immediate search without a warrant. Given probable cause to search, either course is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
  • Coolidge v. New Hampshire: The “mobility” rationale ceased to exist when the individual has been taken in to custody and much time has passed.
    • Reasoning: “In this case, the police had known for some time of the probable role of the Pontiac car in the crime. Coolidge was aware that he was a suspect in the murder, but he had been extremely cooperative throughout the investigation, and there was no indication that he meant to flee. He had already had ample opportunity to destroy any evidence he thought incriminating. There is no suggestion that, on the night in question, the car was being used for any illegal purpose, and it was regularly parked in the driveway of his house. The opportunity for search was thus hardly fleeting.”
  • California v. Carney; Lesser Expectations of Privacy: “In short, the pervasive schemes of regulation, which necessarily lead to reduced expectations of privacy, and the exigencies attendant to ready mobility justify searches without prior recourse to the authority of a magistrate so long as the overriding standard of probable cause is met.”
    • Reasoning: (1) Unlike homes, automobiles “are subjected to pervasive and continuing governmental regulation and controls” such as periodic inspection. (2) Carney’s home was readily mobile, it was licensed to operate on public streets, and a turn of the key in the ignition could move the car beyond reach of the police.
      • Mobile Homes; House or Car: This requires a fact intensive analysis. If in a more residential environment, more likely to be viewed as a home.
    • Cardwell v. Lewis: “One has a lesser expectation of privacy in a motor vehicle because its function is transportation and it seldom serves as one’s residence or as the repository of personal effects. A car has little capacity for escaping public scrutiny. It travels public thorough fares where both its occupants and its contents are in plain view.”
  • South Dakota v. Opperman; Inventory Searches: The Court held that probable cause and warrant requirements of the Fourth Amendment do not apply to routine inventory searches.
    • Reasoning: “The standard of probable cause is peculiarly related to criminal investigations, not routine, non-criminal procedures. In view of the noncriminal context of inventory searches, and the inapplicability in such a setting of the requirement of probable cause, courts have held—quite correctly—that search warrants are not required, linked as the warrant requirement textually is to the probable-cause concept.”
      • But See Florida v. Wells: The Court held that highway patrol officers were not permitted to open a locked suitcase they discovered during an inventory search because “the Florida highway patrol had no policy whatever with respect to the opening of closed containers encountered during an inventory search.”
  • California v. Acevedo: The police may search a container in a car without a warrant if their search of the car itself is supported by probable cause.
    • Limitation: “Probable cause to believe that a container placed in the trunk contains contraband or evidence does not justify a search of the entire car.”
    • Reasoning: “A container found after a general search of the automobile and a container found in a car after a limited search for the container are equally easy for the police to store and for the suspect to hide or destroy. Also, opening a brown paper bag has minimal intrusion as compared to the slashing of the upholstery of a vehicle seen in Carrol.”

Plain View Doctrine (Not Really A Search): An object of an incriminating nature may be seized without a warrant if it is in “plain view” of a police officer lawfully present at the scene.

  • Elements: An article is in plain view, and subject to warrantless seizure, if:
    • (1) The officer observes it from a lawful vantage point (executing a valid search or arrest warrant, executing a valid warrantless search/arrest pursuant to an exception, or viewing evidence from a lawful public place such as a sidewalk).
    • (2) She has a right of physical access to it (must not only be able to see the object, but be able to lawfully gain physical access to it); and
    • (3) It is immediately apparent to her that it is contraband or a fruit, instrumentality of the crime (the officer must know, without any further movement or investigation of the item, that it is evidence).
      • Arizona v. Hicks: Must have probable cause to believe it is evidence.
        • Reasoning: Recording the serial numbers was not a search, but moving the turntables to look underneath it was a search that wasn’t supported by exigent circumstances (no gun or shooter could be found under there). Also, purely looking at the expensive stereo in a squalid apartment isn’t enough for probable cause.
      • Horton v. California: Officer need not inadvertently or accidently view something in plain view, and the subjective intent of the officers in these situations do not matter (they can hope to find incriminating evidence).

Plain Touch Doctrine; Minnesota v. Dickerson: “If a police officer lawfully pats down a suspect’s outer clothing for weapons and feels an object whose contour or mass makes its identity immediately apparent, there has been no invasion of the suspect’s privacy beyond that already authorized by the officer’s search for weapons; if the object is contraband, its warrantless seizure would be justified by the same practical considerations that inhere in the plain view context.”

The Charlotte lawyers at Powers Law Firm PA are dedicated to compassionate legal representation, predicated on superlative knowledge, trial skills, and conscientious advocacy.

The gift of a legal education extends beyond a fulfilling way to earn a living. Omni autem cui multum datum.

Bill Powers - Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com

Carolina Law Blog / Awards and Certifications

Client Reviews
★★★★★
I am so fortunate to have had Bill Powers on my case. Upon our first meeting, Bill insisted that through the emotions of anger, sadness, confusion, and betrayal that I remain resilient. He was available to answer questions with researched, logical, truthful answers throughout our two year stretch together. I went to any lengths for my case because he won my trust almost immediately... J.R.
★★★★★
My daughter had a second DUI and when it all seemed hopeless, Bill was able to get the charges dropped. This is a man who is extremely knowledgeable, yet still keeps his integrity which was impressive to me. He handles himself with dignity. If you hire him, you will have the best of the best, along with his expansive intellect and wisdom about the law. Lisa
★★★★★
Bill Powers’ staff has handled several traffic citations for me over the years, and they exceeded my expectations each and every time. Would highly recommend anyone faced with a traffic citation or court case contact his office and they will handle it from there. M.C.
★★★★★
Bill and his staff are flat out great. I (unfortunately) was a repeat customer after a string of tickets. These guys not only took care of the initial ticket for me, but went the extra mile and reduced my problems from 3 to just 1 (very minor one) on the same day I called back! I would recommend them to anyone. A.R.