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Everyone's Place for Police Related Case Law

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Each time a suspect encounters a police officer he has two choices. He can peacefully submit and cooperate or resist. If he does the first he is guaranteed a safe encounter. If he does the second he is setting into motion a wildly unpredictable event that could lead to his demise. The choice is his to make. The police officer can only react.

Case Law 4 Cops contains information on hundreds of court cases. These cases are important to officers and citizens alike. The cases cover what officers can and cannot do in several areas of law. Follow the links below.

New Cases

Traffic-

US v. Sanchez, No. 17-4000 (10th Cir 2018)-Sanchez was stopped on traffic by a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper for speeding. Sanchez did not have a driver license with him and he was driving a rental car. The Trooper reviewed the rental agreement. The agreement showed a different person not in the vehicle rented the car. The Trooper contacted the rental company. The car was overdue to be returned and it was being driven by an unauthorized person. The company wanted the Trooper to impound the vehicle. During the inventory, the Trooper found 10 bricks of methamphetamine. Defendant argued Trooper Withers's subjective intent to uncover evidence of a crime invalidated the search. An inventory search is invalid only if it is undertaken for the "sole purpose of investigation." Colorado v. Bertine, 479 U.S. 367, 372 (1987) (emphasis added). "While mixed motives or suspicions undoubtedly exist in many inventory searches, such motives or suspicions alone will not invalidate an otherwise proper inventory search." United States v. Cecala, 2000 WL 18948, *2 (10th Cir. 2000) (unpublished). Here, Trooper Withers impounded the vehicle because Enterprise requested the impound when it learned no authorized driver was in the area. Although Trooper Withers stated he hoped to search the vehicle for drugs, searching for drugs was not the sole motive for the inventory. Once Enterprise requested the impound, Trooper Withers was required to conduct the inventory search of the car and its contents. As a dual motive does not invalidate an otherwise lawful impound and inventory, we hold Trooper Withers's subjective intent to uncover evidence of a crime did not invalidate the lawful search.

Surveillance-

Carpenter v. US, No. 16-402 (SCOTUS 2018)-The FBI ’s acquisition of Carpenter’s cell-site records was a Fourth Amendment search. The FBI was required to obtain a search warrant to get the cell-site location information from the phone company.

Curtilage-

Collins v. Virginia, No. 16-1027 (SCOTUS, 2018)-The vehicle exception to a search warrant does not extend to a vehicle parked in the curtilage.

Traffic-

Byrd v. US, No. 16-1371 (SCOTUS, 2018)-A subject named Reed rented a car. She then turned it over to Terrence Byrd. Reed never listed Byrd as an authorized driver. The rental agreement states,

“PERMITTING AN UNAUTHORIZED DRIVER TO OPERATE THE VEHICLE IS A VIOLATION OF THE RENTAL AGREEMENT. THIS MAY RESULT IN ANY AND ALL COVERAGE OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY THE RENTAL AGREEMENT BEING VOID AND MY BEING FULLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL LOSS OR DAMAGE, INCLUDING LIABILITY TO THIRD PARTIES.”

Byrd was stopped on traffic. The troopers learned that Byrd was not an authorized driver. They told him that they did not need consent to search the vehicle. They searched and found body armor and 49 bricks of heroin. Byrd was arrested. Byrd moved to suppress the evidence. The District Court and the Third Circuit Court denied the motion. The Supreme Court held: “The mere fact that a driver in lawful possession or control of a rental car is not listed on the rental agreement will not defeat his or her otherwise reasonable expectation of privacy.” The troopers could not search the vehicle solely based on Byrd’s unauthorized driver status.

Use of Force-

Hammett v. Paulding County, No. 16-15764 (11th Cir. 2017)-Deputies served a search warrant at Hammett’s home. The deputies knocked and announced. They then entered through an unlocked door. A deputy found Hammett inside. He had his hands in his waistband. The deputy gave him several orders to raise his hands. Hammett did not comply. Hammett approached the deputy and raised his hand toward the deputy. The deputy saw an object in Hammett’s hand. Believing he was being ambushed with a weapon, the deputy shot Hammett. Another deputy also shot. Hammett died from his injuries. The object Hammett had was pepper spray. The deputies were sued. The court held the deputies had qualified immunity.

Kisela v. Hughes, No. 17-467 (SCOTUS 2018)-Officers saw Hughes with a knife approach another woman and stopped about six feet away. They ordered her twice to drop the knife. She did not. Officer Kisela shot Hughes four times. She lived and sued. The district court granted qualified immunity to the officer. The 9th Circuit Court reversed. The Supreme Court admonished the 9th Circuit for their poorly reasoned decision and reversed their decision.

Border-

US v. Vergara, No. 16-15059 (11th Cir. 2018)-Vergara returned on a cruise from Cozumel, Mexico. A Border agent found that he had three cellphones. He searched one of them and found child pornography. The other phones were forensically searched. Numerous images of child pornography were found. Vergara was arrested. He fought the search because the agent did not have probable cause to search. The appellate court upheld the search. Only reasonable suspicion is required to search a phone that the border.