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Supreme Court in Michigan Rules Police Search of Passenger's Personal Property Is Unconstitutional

May 6, 2019
 Supreme Court in Michigan  Rules Police Search of Passenger's Personal Property Is Unconstitutional

A historic judgment from the Supreme Court has declared that searching a passenger's personal property during a traffic stop without having a valid "search warrant" as "unconstitutional". The ruling came from the honorable judges of the Michigan Supreme Court when they overturned a 2007 decision that barred passengers from challenging the authority of the law enforcement officers to conduct a warrantless search.

It was the unanimous opinion of the honorable justices of the Michigan Supreme Court that driver's voluntary consent to allow law enforcement officers to conduct a search on her vehicle in no way an extension/consent of the passengers to search their personal belongings. They Justices were able to determine that "In this case, the defendant had a legitimate expectation of privacy in his backpack. Defendant asserted a clear possessory interest in his backpack by clutching it in his lap, and the officer believed that the backpack belonged to the defendant because of the way the defendant was holding it. Therefore, although the defendant had no (and claimed no) legitimate expectation of privacy in the interior of the driver's vehicle, he had a legitimate expectation of privacy in his backpack that society is willing to recognize as reasonable."

The Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court were able to come to the conclusion that, "a passenger's personal property is not subsumed by the vehicle that carries if for Fourth Amendment purposes."

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