Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Virginia v. Moore case brief

Virginia v. Moore case brief summary
553 U.S. 164 (2008)

Defendant was convicted for possessing c*caine with the intent to distribute, but his conviction was reversed by the Virginia Supreme Court. The court reasoned that since arresting officers should have issued defendant a citation for driving with a suspended license under state law rather than arresting him and the Fourth Amendment did not permit search incident to citation, an arrest search violated the FourthAmendment. Certiorari was granted.

Defendant was stopped by police officers who suspected he was driving with a suspended license. After they confirmed his license was suspended, they arrested him for the misdemeanor even though under Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-74, they should have only issued him a summons. A search subsequent to arrest revealed he was carrying crack c*caine.

  • The Court noted that its decisions counseled against changing the calculus that the arrest was constitutionally reasonable because there was probable cause to believe defendant committed the minor crime in the officer's presence. 
  • The Court had treated additional protections exclusively as matters of state law. 
  • Virginia chose to protect individual privacy and dignity more than the Fourth Amendment required, but it also chose not to attach to violations of its arrest rules the potent remedies that federal courts had applied to FourthAmendment violations. 
  • Linking Fourth Amendment protections to state law would have meant losing a bright-line constitutional standard as well as causing those protection to vary from place to place and from time to time.
  • Because the arrest was constitutional, the search incident to the arrest was also constitutional.
The judgment of the Supreme Court of Virginia was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with the opinion. 9-0 decision; 1 concurrence.

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