Virginia v. Moore

Virginia v. Moore

United States Supreme Court
553 U.S. 164 (2008)

TAG: "You can't add Moore to the 4th Amdt.!"
ISSUE: Did a police officer violate the 4th Amdt. when he arrested D based on PC to believe that D had broken the law, but state law prohibited the arrest for this particular misdemeanor?
HOLDING: No, warrantless arrests for any crimes committed in the presence of an arresting officer are reasonable under the Constitution, and state law requirements in addition do not alter the 4th Amdt.'s requirements (doesn't matter what state law says).
FACTS:
  • 2 police officers heard over the radio that D was driving with a suspended license
  • The officers saw D driving, pulled him over, and arrested him
  • The officers subsequently searched Moore and found that he was carrying 16 grams of crack cocaine
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • Charged with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute
  • Trial Ct. denied motion to suppress evidence acquired through search, and D was convicted
  • Ct. App. reversed conviction and then reinstated it after a hearing en banc
  • Virgina Sup. Ct. reasoning that the 4th Amdt. does not permit searches incident to citation (which was all that VA state law said that the officers could do for this misdemeanor)
REASONING:
  • Balancing reasonableness with arrest: When an officer has PC to believe a person has committed even a minor crime in his presence, the balancing of private and public interests is not in doubt, and the arrest is constitutionally reasonableness
  • States can impose greater protections: States remain free to impose greater privacy protections, but such protections do not alter what is reasonable under the 4th Amdt.
    • A less restrictive policy is not unreasonable, and thus not unconstitutional, just because there is a more restrictive policy (e.g., state-law policy) in place
  • Atwater rule still valid: Warrantless arrests based on PC that a crime has been committed in the officer's are not limited to felonies or disturbances of the police

 

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