Missouri v. McNeely, No. 11–1425 (SCOTUS, 2013)-This is a drunk-driving case involving a warrantless blood draw. The driver, McNeely, was stopped for a traffic violation. He refused to take the breath test. The officer arrested McNeely and took him to the hospital and compelled him to submit to a warrantless blood draw. The Court held that with no other factors suggesting an emergency other than the dissipation of blood alcohol on a routine drunk driving case violated McNeely’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches.
The Court also refused to establish a bright line rule of when an emergency exists justifying a warrantless blood draw. The totality of the circumstances for each case will be the determining factor.
Although not expressed in this ruling, the Court has determined that in order for police to enter into a residence and arrest without a warrant there must be both a serious offense and exigent circumstances (see Payton v. New York and Mascorro v. Billings). For a drunk driving case to be consistent it will need to involve something like an accident with serious injury or death before a warrantless blood draw would be allowed.
US v. Uribe, No. 11-3590 (7th Cir. 2013)-Uribe was driving through the state of Indiana in a blue Nissan registered in Utah. An officer ran the vehicle regisitration which listed the vehicle as white. The officer stopped the vehicle for the color discrepancy. The stop lead to the discovery of a pound pof heroin. Uribe was arrested. Uribe made a motion to suppress the evidence in district court. The motion was granted. The Circuit Court upheld the suppression stating, "investigatory stops based on color discrepancies alone are insufficient to give rise to reasonable suspicion." The suppression of the evidence was affirmed.
US v. Carey, No. 98-3077 (10th Cir. 1999)-Officers obtained a warrant to search a computer for evidence relating to drug dealing. During the search of the computer, the officer discovered an image of child pornography. He expanded from the search authorized for drug related evidence to evidence of child pornography. Over two hundred images were found. The prosecution argued that the images were properly seized since they found as a result of plain view. The Circuit Court, however, suppressed the evidence. It held that once the officer found the first image of child pornography, he should have stopped and obtained another search warrant. The Court rejected the plain view arguement because the officer reasonably suspected the image files contained child pornography, but had to open them to confirm it. He did not have the right to open the closed files.
Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, (1949)-Probable Cause-"We deal with probabilities. These are not technical; they are the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act." And, "Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the officers' knowledge, and of which they have reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient in themselves to warrant a belief by a man of reasonable caution that a crime is being committed."
The Court held in this case that an officer's prior knowledge of a person's criminal behavior can be considered along with other facts to determine probable cause eventhough this information cannot be used at trial.
K-9 & Curtilage-
Florida v. Jardines, No. 11–564 (2013)-The Court held that taking a K-9 onto the porch of the defendant's home to sniff for drugs inside is a search and requires consent or a search warrant. The officer entered into the curtilage for evidence gathering purposes in violation of the defendant's Constitutionally protected 4th Amendment rights. See US v. Thomas.
Rawlings v. Kentucky, 448 U.S. 98 (1980)-Officers were executing a search warrant. Officers searched Ms. Cox's purse and found drugs. Rawlings admitted the drugs were his. He was searched then arrested. Once he admitted ownership of the drugs found in Cox's purse, the police had probable cause to arrest him, and where the arrest followed quickly after the search of petitioner's person it is not important that the search preceded the arrest, rather than vice versa. Rawlings also did not have an expectation of privacy in Cox's purse.
Stop & Frisk:
US v. Black, No. 11-5084 (4th Cir. 2013)-This case deals with Terry stops and searches of individuals based on reasonable suspicion. The case also involves open carry of a firearm. The Court made it very clear that it will not tolerate officers’ misuse of innocent facts as indicators of suspicious activity to detain and/or search people. The Court further said just because an officer has reasonable suspicion that an individual in a group may be engaged in criminal activity, that reasonable suspicion, without further indicators, does not apply to the others in the group. The Court further stated, “The Government attempts to meet its Terry burden by patching together a set of innocent, suspicion-free facts, which cannot rationally be relied on to establish reasonable suspicion.“ There are several key points in this case that the Court made that I recommend reading.
Keep in mind that innocent facts used when considering the totality of the circumstances can help establish reasonable suspicion. This case, however, deals with the misuse of these innocent facts.