Supreme Court rules cops can search your car and seize evidence even if the stop was unlawful

Monday, December 22, 2014
By Paul Martin

by: J. D. Heyes
Monday, December 22, 2014

Police officers are able to use evidence in court that they seized during a traffic stop even if turns out that the cops pulled a car over initially based on their misunderstanding of the law, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

In an overwhelmingly lopsided 8-1 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, justices said that such stops do not violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

As reported by The Associated Press (AP):

The ruling came in a North Carolina case in which a police officer pulled over Nicholas Heien’s car because the right brake light was out, although the left one still worked. A consensual search led to the discovery of cocaine in the trunk.

A state appeals court said the stop was impermissible because a quirky state law only requires a car to have one functioning brake light. But the state’s highest court reversed, finding that the officer’s mistaken reading of the law was reasonable.

The majority of justices on the Supreme Court agreed with the state’s high court, in finding that the Fourth Amendment does require police to act in a reasonable manner, but not in a perfect one. In his majority opinion, Roberts said that just like a police officer’s factual misunderstanding can justify a traffic stop, a reasonable misunderstanding of the law is enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement.

The Rest…HERE

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