Why did the police remove the defendant’s Buick key from his belt loop during a stop-and-frisk?

The Fourth Amendment guarantees “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. A “search” involves governmental infringement on “an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to consider reasonable,” while a “seizure” of property involves “some meaningful interference [by the government] with an individual’s possessory interests in that property.” United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113, 104 S.Ct. 1652, 80 L.Ed.2d 85 (1984). Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights that “may not be vicariously asserted.” Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 174, 89 S.Ct. 961, 22 L.Ed.2d 176 (1969). To establish standing to challenge governmental intrusions under the Fourth Amendment, an individual must demonstrate their reasonable expectation of privacy in a place searched, or meaningful interference with their possessory interest in property seized. See United States v. Singleton, 987 F.2d 1444, 1447 (9th Cir. 1993) (citing United States v. Salvucci, 448 U.S. 83, 95, 100 S.Ct. 2547, 65 L.Ed.2d 619 (1980)); Lavan v. City of Los Angeles, 693 F.3d 1022, 1027–29 (9th Cir. 2012).1 “Because warrantless searches or seizures of abandoned property do not violate the [F]fourth [A]mendment, persons who voluntarily abandon property lack standing to complain of its search or seizure.” *1117 United States v. Nordling, 804 F.2d 1466, 1469 (9th Cir. 1986).

We begin with the bedrock principle that warrantless searches and seizures “are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment—subject only to a few specifically established and well delineated exceptions.” Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 372, 113 S.Ct. 2130, 124 L.Ed.2d 334 (1993) (quoting Thompson v. Louisiana, 469 U.S. 17, 19–20, 105 S.Ct. 409, 83 L.Ed.2d 246 (1984)). One of these exceptions is the Terry stop, which permits an officer with reasonable suspicion that an individual is engaged in a crime to briefly detain the individual and make “ ‘reasonable inquiries’ aimed at confirming or dispelling [the officer’s] suspicions.” Dickerson, 508 U.S. at 373, 113 S.Ct. 2130 (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 30, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968)). If the officer has reasonable suspicion that the detained individual is “armed and presently dangerous,” the officer may conduct a frisk, a protective patdown search of the individual for weapons. Terry, 392 U.S. at 30, 88 S.Ct. 1868.

Full case here: United States v. Baker, 58 F.4th 1109 (2023), https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2023/01/30/20-50314.pdf

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
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