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.
CASE FACTS 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
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
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. Suggested law school study materials
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