In New York v. Belton, police officer stopped a speeding car. Roger Belton was a passenger in that car. When the officer spoke with the driver he smelled marijuana and saw an envelope he believed contained marijuana (SUPERGOLD). The officer also found that none of the car’s occupants owned the car or were related to the owner of the car. After asking the four occupants of the car to get out, the officer searched the car and found a leather jacket belonging to Belton with cocaine zipped inside one of the pockets.
May an officer lawfully search a car without a warrant after the occupants are separated from the vehicle and under arrest?
Yes. In a 6-3 vote, the Court held that a police officer can always lawfully search a car and any compartments in that car after arresting its occupants. The search, in this case, was incident to a lawful arrest and did not violate the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment.
Read full opinion here: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/453/454/#tab-opinion-1954225
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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