U.S. Supreme Court Limits Vehicle Searches

In the recent United States Supreme Court decision, Arizona v. Gant, the Court limited a police officer’s ability to search a criminal defendant’s vehicle.  Prior to this ruling, there was a debate as to whether police officers may search the passenger compartment of a vehicle when an occupant of the vehicle is arrested.  This is known as a search incident to arrest, which allows police officers to search a vehicle without a warrant.  In Gant, the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement may conduct a search of a vehicle incident to arrest only in two situations:

  1. At the time of the search, the defendant is within reaching distance of the interior of the vehicle, or
  2. the officers have a reasonable belief that the vehicle contains evidence of the offense for which the defendant is being arrested.
The Gant case is a push in the right direction to protect everyone’s 4th amendment rights as applied to the State of Florida via the 14th amendment.  As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, I have seen many cases that were dismissed due to unlawful searches and seizures.  When a Jacksonville police officer conducts an unlawful search of a defendant’s vehicle, he is violating the defendant’s constitutional rights.  The proper remedy is to suppress any evidence that the Jacksonville police officer found in violation of the such rights.  
The Gant case will be extremely favorable to any Jacksonville criminal defendant that was subject to a search incident to arrest of his vehicle.  For more information about Jacksonville searches and seizures contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer at (904) 685-1200.
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