Saturday, November 2, 2013

California v. Acevedo case brief

California v. Acevedo case brief summary
500 U.S. 565 (1991)

Defendant pled guilty to possessing marijuana for sale, but appealed the denial of his motion to suppress marijuana found in a paper bag in a car's trunk. The Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District concluded that the marijuana should have been suppressed. The State was granted certiorari.

Defendant placed a bag in the trunk of a car. Police officers stopped him, opened the trunk, and found marijuana.

  • The Court held that the Fourth Amendment did not require the police to obtain a warrant to open the sack in a movable vehicle simply because they lacked probable cause to search the entire car. 
  • The same probable cause to believe that a container held drugs allowed the police to arrest the person transporting the container and search it. 
  • The police had probable cause to believe that the paper bag in the car's trunk contained marijuana and probable cause allowed a warrantless search of the paper bag. 
  • The Fourth Amendment did not compel separate treatment for an automobile search that extended only to a container within the vehicle. 
  • The police could search containers found in an automobile without a warrant if their search was supported by probable cause.


The judgment concluding that marijuana found in a paper bag in the trunk of a car should have been suppressed was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Court's opinion.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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