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Auto Stops: If The Police Can Smell It, You Can Not Deny It; A Search Of The Vehicle Is Permitted


FAQ

People v Belton

55.N.Y.2d 49

New York Court Of Appeals

Decided on: February 11, 1982

Auto Stops: If The Police Can Smell It, You Can Not Deny It; A Search Of The Vehicle Is Permitted 

See Also: Stripping And Searching: There Are Limits To The Scope Of Police Authority To Search Your Person Before Judicial Intervention Is Required.

Summary: Defendant’s car was pulled over by Police and they noticed a type of envelope on the car floor, which is frequently used in marijuana sales. Police smelled Marijuana and ordered Defendant out of the car. They searched his car and found cocaine. Defendant was arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the sixth degree. At trial, Defendant argued to suppress the cocaine, but that motion was denied. The Court Of Appeals affirmed and held that where Police have validly arrested a person in an automobile and have reason to believe that the car may contain evidence related to the crime for which the person was arrested, or, that a weapon may be discovered, Police have a right to search that vehicle.

Issue: Whether Police can search a vehicle without a warrant or after a lawful arrest and where they have reason to believe there is evidence relating to the crime in which he was arrested.

Holding: The Court of Appeals affirmed and held that where Police have validly arrested Defendant in an automobile and they have reason to believe that the car may contain evidence relating to the crime in which Defendant was arrested, they may consequently search the passenger compartment and any containers found therein without a warrant.

Facts: Defendant was pulled over by Police. They smelled marijuana and ordered him out of his car. They searched the car without a warrant and discovered cocaine. Defendant was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the sixth degree. Prior to trial, Defendant argued to suppress the cocaine as evidence illegally obtained, that motion was denied. The Court Of Appeals held that where Police have validly arrested an occupant of an automobile and have reason to believe that there is evidence relating to that arrest, they may search the vehicle and any containers therein without a warrant as part of the automobile exception rule.

Legal Analysis: Police noticed the type of envelope, which is frequently used in marijuana sales on the car floor. They ordered Defendant out of the car with reason to believe there was evidence inside. Police found cocaine. Prior to trial, Defendant argued to suppress the evidence, but that motion was denied. The Court Of Appeals affirmed holding that, where an occupant of an automobile is lawfully arrested and Police have reason to believe the car may contain evidence in relation to the crime, The Police may contemporaneously search that vehicle and any containers therein without a warrant.


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