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Search And Seizure Law

Search And Seizure Law

Arrest vs. Detention, and Constitutional Requirements in DUI Cases 

“The Fourth Amendment prohibits ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ by the Government, and its protections extend to brief investigatory stops of persons or vehicles that fall short of traditional arrest.” United States v. Arvizu (2002), citing United States v. Cortez (1981); Terry v. Ohio (1968).

Detention vs. Consensual Contact in California DUI Cases 

In People v. Jones (1991), the court summarized that the law related to a determination of whether or not any particular encounter between a person and cop is a detention versus a consensual contact.
In general, a detention is found whenever a person is ordered, rather than asked, by a cop to stay put, though in individual cases other factors may weigh more heavily.

Entry of Dwelling Without a Warrant in California DUI Cases 

The warrantless entry into a home to arrest someone is an unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution absent probable cause and an exigent circumstance. Payton v. New York (1980).

Thus, absent some exception to the warrant requirement, if there is time for the constable to obtain a warrant then it must be obtained.

Furthermore, curtilage around a dwelling is given the same protection. People v. Strider (2009) affirmed that locations where the general public is not permitted to walk without challenge, such as a fenced-in yard, are also protected.

There are various exceptions to the warrant requirement, however, which are set forth in the two-volume treatise, California Drunk Driving Law, Chapter 6.

Search Incident to Arrest in California DUI Cases 

The right of police to search a vehicle incident to arrest is not unlimited. New York v. Belton (1981). In the absence of probable cause to believe that evidence connected to the offense giving rise to arrest may be found in a vehicle, a warrantless search of a driver’s vehicle is unconstitutional where the driver has been placed in custody and no longer has immediate access to the car’s interior. Arizona v. Gant (2009), distinguishing Chimel v. California (1969)--search incident to arrest justified by either officer safety or preservation of evidence).

But see People v. Henry (2010) (review granted), which holds that Gant does not apply retroactively.
Inventory Searches

Colorado v. Bertine (1987) held that police officers may exercise discretion in determining whether impounding a vehicle serves their community caretaking function, “so long as that discretion is exercised according to standard criteria and on the basis of something other than suspicion of evidence of criminal activity.” Id., at 375.

In People v. Torres (2010), the officer testified his department’s policy permitted inventory searches to look for evidence of criminal activity. The court held that such an inventory did not serve the community caretaking function, since it was intended to find evidence.

Tipsters and the Public Safety Exception in California DUI Cases 

When evaluating the constitutionality of a detention based on a tip to the police, one must preliminarily note the distinction between “anonymous tipsters” (folks who telephone the police about a crime, but do not identify themselves and are not known to the police), “government agents” (snitches working for the constable) and “citizen informants” (chance witnesses or crime victims who expose their identity). With regard to “anonymous tipsters” and “government agents,” there is no presumption of reliability attached to their reports. With “citizen informants,” however, there is a presumption of reliability, but even this presumption does not “dispense with the requirement that the informant—whether citizen or otherwise—furnish underlying facts sufficiently detailed to cause a reasonable person to believe that a crime had been committed....” People v. Ramey (1976).

If the officer making an enforcement stop does not know whether the tipster exposed his identity, then the source of the information must be treated as an “anonymous tip.” This is because the constitutionality of the detention turns on what the officer knew prior to the enforcement stop, People v. Ramey (1976), and “a police officer can legally stop a motorist only if the facts and circumstances known to the officer support at least a reasonable suspicion that the driver has violated the Vehicle Code or some other law.” People v. Miranda (1993) (Emphasis added).

All that being said, however, an anonymous and uncorroborated phone tip about a potential drunk driver may trigger the “public safety” exception to the Fourth Amendment, even where the police do not independently observe anything unusual about the motorist or his driving prior to the enforcement stop. People v. Wells (2006)

Racial Profiling in California DUI Cases 

Penal Code § 13519.4(e) prohibits racial profiling. Subdivision (d) states that:

“Racial profiling,” for purposes of this section, is the practice of detaining a suspect based on a broad set of criteria which cast suspicion on an entire class of people without any individualized suspicion of the particular person being stopped.

Speed Traps in California DUI Cases 

A motorist stopped in violation of the speed trap law may still be lawfully arrested for DUI because the statutory speed trap “exclusionary rule” of CVC §§ 40803 and 40804 applies only to speeding violations and “[t]he offense of driving under the influence does not ‘involve the speed of a vehicle’ as defined in [CVC §]40805.”

Community Caretaking Exception in California DUI Cases 

Police may conduct a warrantless detention if the officer feels a person is in need of emergency assistance. It does not require evidence that a crime has been committed.

The lead case in California is People v. Ray (1999). In Ray, the California Supreme Court noted the community caretaking exception is only permitted when there is an imminent danger to life or property.



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