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Law School Case Brief

United States v. Shaw - 701 F.2d 367 (5th Cir. 1983)

Rule:

Searches conducted outside the judicial process of obtaining a warrant are per se unreasonable, except those conducted in a few narrowly defined situations. The exceptional situations are those in which the societal costs of obtaining a warrant, such as danger to law officers or risk of loss or destruction of evidence, outweigh the interest of recourse to a neutral magistrate.

Facts:

Defendant was convicted of receiving a firearm after earlier being convicted of a felony, first degree murder, carrying a firearm unlawfully and using it to kill, assault with intent to murder, and carrying a firearm unlawfully and using it in an assault. He was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 21 years. On appeal, he argued that the searches made in his vehicle violated his constitutional rights against illegal search.

Issue:

Were the searches conducted in defendnt’s vehicle unconstitutional?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The appellate court held that searches of a vehicle during defendant's arrest and after impoundment were constitutional, and evidence obtained from the searches was admissible. The court held that defendant waived his rights to counsel under both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments prior to statements made regarding his criminal activity.

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