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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 97298 Find in a Library
Title: Arrestee's Scope of Immediate Control - An Expansive Definition
Journal: Loyola Law Review  Volume:28  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1982)  Pages:359-372
Author(s): P Wallace
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 14
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In its decision in New York v. Belton, the U.S. Supreme Court authorized thorough warrantless searches of automobiles following an arrest of an occupant, thereby ignoring a central theme in fourth amendment cases: the consistent call for the use of search warrants whenever possible.
Abstract: The Belton case involved an automobile initially stopped for speeding. The police officer detected the odor of burnt marijuana and noticed an envelope labeled with a term related to marijuana. The officer then ordered the four men out of the car, patted them down, and arrested them for possession of marijuana. After the arrest, the officer searched the car's passenger compartment. He discovered cocaine in a zippered pocket of a jacket on the back seat. The defense argued that the cocaine was the fruit of an unlawful search. The U.S. Supreme Court held that a search of the passenger section and any containers found in it was permissible when the occupant had been arrested. Decisions on searches incident to arrest date from 1914. No pattern emerged from the early decisions. However, the decision in Chimel v. California created principles which ensured the reasonableness of the search incident to arrest. It restricted such searches to the area within the arrestee's immediate control, meaning the area from which the arrestee might obtain a weapon or destructible evidence. In the Belton decision, the Court relied on the holding in United States v. Robinson, noting that an automobile's interior is usually within the arrestee's reach. The need for a search, including a search of containers, incident to a lawful arrest was emphasized. This decision permits little or no justification for warrantless searches of vehicles. It has obviated the need for case-by-case determination of reasonableness and has overlooked some less intrusive possibilities. Ninety-one reference notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Right of privacy; US Supreme Court decisions; Vehicle searches; Warrantless search
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