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Supreme Court rules in Fourth Amendment case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] handed down its decision Wednesday in Virginia v. Moore [Duke Law case backgrounder], where the Court ruled that Virginia police did not violate Moore's Fourth Amendment right when they arrested him based on probable cause and performed a search incident to arrest, even when the arrest was prohibited by Virginia law. Moore was arrested for driving with a suspended license, even though the Virginia code directs that a police offer should issue a summons and release the suspect from custody for such an offense. A subsequent search turned up crack cocaine and Moore was convicted on drug charges. Lower courts in Virginia allowed the drug evidence, but the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the evidence should have been suppressed [PDF text].

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that even though state arrest law may have been violated, the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were not:

We reaffirm against a novel challenge what we have signaled for more than half a century. When officers have probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime in their presence, the Fourth Amendment permits them to make an arrest, and to search the suspect in order to safeguard evidence and ensure their own safety.
Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Scalia, along with a concurrence [text] from Justice Ginsburg.

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