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CARDWELL v. LEWIS - 417 U.S. 583, 94 S. Ct. 2464 (1974)

Rule:

Where probable cause exists, a warrantless examination of the exterior of a car is not unreasonable under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments

Facts:

Respondent was tried and convicted of murder. On appeal, his conviction was affirmedl. In a subsequently filed habeas corpus proceeding, the district court concluded that the warrantless seizure and examination of respondent's car were violative of U.S. Const. amend. IV andXIV and that the evidence should have been excluded at respondent's state court trial. The court of appeals affirmed. 

Issue:

Were the warrantless seizure and examination of respondent's car violative of U.S. Const. amend. IV and XIV?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

Supreme Court found that there was no violation of the protection afforded U.S. Const. amend. IV and XIV. The Court held that, where probable cause existed, a warrantless examination of the exterior of a car was not unreasonable. It was established and conceded that the police had probable cause to search respondent's car. Moreover, the right to search, based on probable cause, and the reasonableness of seizing the car under exigent circumstances were not foreclosed because a warrant was not obtained at the first practicable moment. Respondent was arrested after a lengthy interrogation session; therefore, the incentive and potential for the car's removal substantially increased. The immediate seizure facilitated the necessary type of close examination.

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