Vehicle Search-Incident-To Arrest

Police can search the vehicle incident to a recent occupant's arrest only when the arrestee is within reaching a distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or the police have reason to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. This was the notings of the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona v. Gant, 129 S. Ct. 1710 (2009). The Supreme Court upheld the order of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Arizona Supreme Court held that the search-incident-to-arrest of the Respondent's car was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. In Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969), the Court limited the search-incident-to-arrest to only "the arrestee's person and the area 'within his immediate control'. Area 'within his immediate control' means the area from within which he might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence. The authority to search was meant to protect arresting officers and protecting the evidence of the offense of arrest which an arrestee may conceal or destroy. However, if there is no way for the arrestee to reach into the area to be searched, the authority to search is inapplicable. This decision of the US Supreme Court also differs from the Court's finding in United States v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454 (1981). In Belton, the Court ruled the search-incident-to-arrest valid as the "articles inside the relatively narrow compass of the passenger compartment of an automobile are in fact usually, even when not inevitably, within 'the area into which an arrestee might reach'. The police and law enforcement have interpreted this as a police entitlement rather than an exception. But the Gant ruling has held such searches to be an exception and not the norm.

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