Sunday, June 24, 2007

Passengers Have Standing To Challenge Vehicle Seizures

Brendlin v. California, No. 06-8120 (June 18, 2007)

In a decision that is sure to increase the number of occasions that officers will be testifying at suppression hearings, the United States Supreme Court held that a passenger in a vehicle is 'seized' for Fourth Amendment purposes when a vehicle is stopped.

Brendlin was a passenger in a car that was stopped, although the reasons for the stop were legally insufficient. Recognized by the officer, it was determined that there was an outstanding warrant for Brendlin, an arrest followed, and drugs and contraband were found.

The Supremes overturned California's highest court, stating that once a vehicle is stopped, everyone in it is seized.

The takehome for law enforcement officers is clear.

There are going to be more challenges to vehicle stops, and there needs to be reasonable and articulable suspicion concerning every person in the vehicle.


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