Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Law and Argument: Part E & Conclusion

E. The Automobile Exception Does Not Apply.

Defense counsel correctly cites the standard set forth in New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454, 101 S.Ct. 2860, 69 L.Ed.2d 768 (1981), and adopted by Virginia, for the warrantless search of automobiles. Again, that court held that “...when a policeman has made a lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of an automobile, he may, as a contemporaneous incident of that arrest, search the passenger compartment of that automobile.

The Commonwealth submits that this exception does not apply because when the Virginia Beach Police Department took the Defendants into custody on the Pennsylvania homicide arrest warrants, the vehicle was not immediately searched. The vehicle was driven back to the Virginia Beach Police Department Special Investigations Division by a Virginia Beach Detective where it was subject to an Inventory Search by Virginia Beach Detectives. Furthermore, a search warrant did exist which requested the search and seizure of the Defendants' vehicles for RICO related charges in Virginia Beach.


The Commonwealth submits that the Virginia Beach Police Department had the authority to stop and apprehend the Defendants based on a valid Pennsylvania arrest warrant. The vehicle was later subject to an inventory search subject to Virginia Beach Police Department policies and regulations. In addition, the Virginia Beach Police Department possessed a valid search warrant for the search and seizure of the Defendants’ vehicle for alleged RICO related violations. Even if the Court were to find that Virginia’s warrant was not valid, Virginia has adopted the “good faith” exception which the Commonwealth submits would apply to the seizure of the Defendants’ vehicle. The items found in the Defendants’ vehicle were properly seized and relevant items were subsequently turned over to the Pennsylvania State Police. The Commonwealth submits that the Defendants’ Motion to Suppress should be denied and dismissed.