Can the Police Answer a Seized Cell Phone?

The Ninth Circuit recently decided a case that addresses a question I’ve been asked several times: may the police answer a seized cell phone? The answer may depend on the basis for, and circumstances of, the seizure. On the facts before the Ninth Circuit, the court answered no. The Ninth Circuit case. The case is … Read more

Strip Searches by Law Enforcement Officers (Part II)

This blog post is divided in two parts. This is Part II. Part I was posted yesterday. That post offered a general introduction, defined a strip search, and discussed the legality of consent searches involving strip searches. This post discusses the legality of nonconsensual strip searches. As mentioned in Part I, strip searches at jails … Read more

Strip Searches by Law Enforcement Officers (Part I)

This blog post is divided in two parts. This is Part I. Part II will be posted tomorrow. Introduction. These posts will discuss strip searches by law enforcement officers that usually occur during investigative stops, frisks, arrests, executing search warrants, and related actions. These posts will not include strip searches at jails, which are discussed … Read more

Search Incident to the Arrest of an Occupant of a Vehicle: Review and Update (Part II)

This topic was divided in two parts. This is Part II. Part I was posted yesterday. In yesterday’s blog post, I discussed the United States Supreme Court in 2009 ruling in Arizona v. Gant that significantly restricted an officer’s authority, based on the theory of search incident to arrest, to conduct a search of the … Read more

Search Incident to the Arrest of an Occupant of a Vehicle: Review and Update (Part I)

This blog post is divided in two parts. This is Part I. Part II will be posted tomorrow. The United States Supreme Court in 2009 issued a ruling in Arizona v. Gant that significantly restricted an officer’s authority, based on the theory of search incident to arrest, to conduct a search of the passenger compartment … Read more

Searching a Person Based on the Smell of Marijuana

The question. Many cases hold that the smell of marijuana provides probable cause to search a vehicle. See, e.g., State v. Greenwood, 301 N.C. 705, 708 (1981); State v. Smith, 192 N.C. App. 690 (2008) (“When an officer detects the odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle, probable cause exists for a warrantless search of … Read more

Multi-Unit Dwellings and Curtilage

I blogged previously about whether the concept of curtilage applies to multi-unit dwellings like duplexes and apartment buildings. It’s an interesting question, and the cases summarized in the prior post show that the courts aren’t in complete agreement on the issue. I recently had a question on point, and one of the clipping services I … Read more

Fascinating Footnote 3

The most famous footnote in all the world is generally acknowledged to be footnote 4 in United States v. Carolene Products Company, 304 U.S. 144 (1938). That footnote introduced to constitutional law the concept of tiered levels of scrutiny, an idea that deeply influenced the subsequent evolution of equal protection jurisprudence. Although not likely destined … Read more

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State v. Sellars: De Minimis Delay for Dog Sniffs Permissible

May an officer prolong a routine traffic stop for four and a half minutes to allow a drug dog to sniff the exterior of the vehicle–even if the officer lacks reasonable suspicion to believe that drugs are in the car?  Yes she may.  The court of appeals held this week in State v. Sellars, No. … Read more

Search and Seizure iPhone App

If you have an iPhone, an iPad, or an iPod touch, you can now download the School of Government’s first smartphone app, a guide to the law of search and seizure called ASSET. (That’s an acronym for Arrest, Search, and Seizure Electronic Tool, but obviously we also hope that the app will be an asset … Read more