August 21, 2019

Case Law: People v. McCarty, Drug Suppression Affirmed

on May 10, 2010.

Vehicle Searches Incident to Arrest—Good Faith Exception to the Exclusionary Rule.

The People brought an interlocutory appeal to the Supreme Court, as authorized by CRS § 16-12-102(2) and C.A.R. 4.1, challenging the district court’s suppression of drugs seized from a vehicle driven by defendant. After being followed from an import store that was the object of police surveillance and being stopped for a traffic infraction, defendant conceded buying a “pot pipe” at the store, took the wrapped pipe from his pocket, and turned it over to the police. The district court found that these circumstances did not provide the officers with probable cause to search defendant’s vehicle or justify a search of the vehicle incident to defendant’s arrest.

The Court held that, under the circumstances as determined by the district court, the arresting officers lacked probable cause to support a warrantless search of defendant’s vehicle or justification for a search incident to his arrest, as that doctrine was subsequently clarified in Arizona v. Gant, __ U.S.__, 129 S.Ct. 1710 (2009). The Court also held that the officers’ search did not fall within any recognized good-faith exception to the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule. The Court therefore affirmed the district court’s order suppressing the drugs seized from defendant’s vehicle and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

Summary, full case, and all May 10, 2010, opinions also available here.

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