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United States v. Ross

Supreme Court of the United States

March 1, 1982, Argued ; June 1, 1982, Decided

No. 80-2209

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

Petitioner United States sought review of the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which held that the warrantless search of an automobile stopped by police officers who had probable cause to believe that the vehicle contained contraband was unreasonable within the meaning of U.S. Const. amend. IV.

Overview

A reliable informant contacted police department, describing respondent's vehicle, the location of the vehicle and respondent and stating that he had just seen respondent complete a drug sale. At the scene, a license and computer check revealed that the matching car was registered to a person fitting respondent's description. Five minutes later, police officers observed the vehicle being driven by respondent and stopped the vehicle. The police officers discovered a bullet in the front seat and a pistol in the glove compartment. Upon respondent's arrest, police officers opened the trunk and found a closed paper bag containing a white powder. At issue was whether the warrantless search of the vehicle stopped by police officers who had probable cause to believe that the vehicle contained contraband was unreasonable under U.S. Const. amend. IV. The scope of a warrantless search of an automobile was defined by the object of the search and the places in which there was probable cause to believe it would be found. Probable cause justifying the search of a lawfully stopped vehicle justified the search its contents that could have concealed the object of the search.

Outcome

The court reversed and remanded, holding that if probable cause justified the search of the lawfully stopped vehicle, it justified the search of every part of the vehicle and its contents that may have concealed the object of the search.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

 

 

Constitutional Law > ... > Fundamental Rights > Search & Seizure > Probable Cause

Criminal Law & Procedure > ... > Warrantless Searches > Vehicle Searches > General Overview

Constitutional Law > ... > Fundamental Rights > Search & Seizure > General Overview

Criminal Law & Procedure > Search & Seizure > Warrantless Searches > General Overview

Criminal Law & Procedure > Search & Seizure > Warrantless Searches > Vehicle Searches

HN1  Search & Seizure, Probable Cause

A warrantless search of an automobile stopped by police officers who have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband is not unreasonable within the meaning of U.S. Const. amend XIV.

 

Criminal Law & Procedure > ... > Search Warrants > Probable Cause > General Overview

Criminal Law & Procedure > Search & Seizure > Search Warrants > General Overview

Criminal Law & Procedure > ... > Search Warrants > Affirmations & Oaths > General Overview

HN2  Search Warrants, Probable Cause

See U.S. Const. amend. 4.

 

Criminal Law & Procedure > ... > Search Warrants > Probable Cause > General Overview

HN3  Search Warrants, Probable Cause

In cases where the securing of a warrant is reasonably practicable, it must be used.

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456 U.S. 798 ; 102 S. Ct. 2157 ; 72 L. Ed. 2d 572 ; 1982 U.S. LEXIS 18 ; 50 U.S.L.W. 4580

UNITED STATES v. ROSS

Prior History:  [1]  CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.

Disposition:  210 U. S. App. D. C. 342, 655 F.2d 1159, reversed and remanded.