May 19, 2019

Case Law: Pineda v. People, Evidence Discovered Pursuant to Valid Inventory Search of Vehicle

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Pineda v. People on May 10, 2010.

Fourth Amendment—Inventory Searches—Searches Incident to Arrest.

The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ denial of defendant Pineda’s motion to suppress heroin evidence found in his vehicle when he was arrested. The trial court initially denied Pineda’s motion to suppress, determining that the evidence was discovered pursuant to a valid search incident to arrest. The court of appeals affirmed. However, after the court of appeals issued its decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Arizona v. Gant, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. 1710 (2009), which reformulated the application of the search-incident-to-arrest exception involving motor vehicles. The Court did not decide whether the search-incident-to-arrest exception continues to apply in this case post-Gant. Instead, the Court affirmed on alternate grounds, holding that the heroin evidence was admissible because it was discovered pursuant to a valid inventory search of the vehicle.

Summary and full case also available here.

Case Law: Perez v. People, Impact of Arizona v. Gant on Search and Seizure

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Perez v. People on May 10, 2010.

Fourth Amendment—Impact of Arizona v. Gant on a Search and Seizure.

The Supreme Court held that, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. Gant, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. 1710 (2009), a search of a glove compartment in a car is unlawful where the driver was not within reaching distance of the vehicle’s passenger compartment and there was no indication that any evidence of the offense of arrest would be found in the car. Even if the driver disclaimed any possessory interest in the glove compartment, his possessory interest in the car itself prevents an officer from entering the vehicle to access the glove compartment. The Court further held that Perez’s presence at the unlawful search renders the confession resulting from that search inadmissible as evidence. The judgment of the court of appeals is reversed and the case is remanded with directions to return it to the district court for further action consistent with this opinion.

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