Police in Minnesota and throughout America will need a warrant to search a vehicle located on private property. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of a defendant who had been taken into custody after being suspected of stealing a motorcycle. Police believed that the motorcycle in question was sitting in the man’s driveway under a tarp. After completing a search, they took him into custody when he arrived back at his home.
The case involved two precedents concerning searches outside of a home and an exemption to the Fourth Amendment as it related to searching a vehicle. If authorities believe a crime has been committed, they can generally search a vehicle since it can be moved quickly. However, the majority of the justices believed that an individual’s privacy rights trumped other concerns in a case such as this one. While Justice Clarence Thomas was part of the majority, he did lament that evidence could be suppressed at trial.
In addition to this matter, the Supreme Court has made a number of other rulings relating to the Fourth Amendment and vehicle searches. For instance, it has ruled that vehicles cannot be tracked by GPS without a warrant. Individuals also retain privacy rights even if they are driving a car that was rented under a different name.
A person who is charged with a crime might benefit from consulting with a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney may work to suppress evidence or otherwise create a defense against a charge. Defenses may include casting doubt on physical evidence or claiming that there was no intent to commit a crime. Legal counsel could also argue that evidence was acquired through the illegal search of a vehicle or of a person’s home.