Kansas City Criminal Defense Lawyers
Supreme Court Sets New Limits on Warrantless Searches

Supreme Court Sets New Limits on Warrantless Searches

In an 8-1 ruling in May that has been considered a huge victory for privacy rights, the Supreme Court ruled in late May that law enforcement agencies are required to obtain a warrant in order to search vehicles parked on private property or on the surrounding area.

Ryan Collins of Virginia accused law enforcement officials of infringing upon his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure when police stepped foot on his girlfriend’s driveway in 2013 and uncovered his motorcycle underneath a tarp. Without a search warrant, law enforcement conducted a license plate search on the motorcycle and learned it was stolen.

According to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing on behalf of the eight justices who ruled in Collins’ favor, the meaning of the Fourth Amendment has occurred when a police officer physically intrudes on the curtilage to collect evidence.

“The automobile exception does not permit an officer without a warrant to enter a home or its curtilage in order to search a vehicle therein,” stated Sotomayor. “The scope of the automobile exception extends no further than the automobile itself.”

In recent years, the Supreme Court has firmly defended the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. On May 14, the court ruled that unauthorized drivers of rental cars, whose names are not on the rental agreement, should generally be given the same privacy protections as authorized drivers. Prior to that case, it has held that law enforcement cannot use GPS equipment to track vehicles or search cellphones without a warrant.

For more information, contact our Kansas City criminal defense lawyer at Stein Law, LLC today.


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