While checking the immigration status of passengers on a bus in Texas, Border Patrol Agent squeezed the soft luggage which passengers had placed in the overhead storage space. When the agent squeezed a canvas bag above Steven Dewayne Bond, the agent noticed that it contained a “brick-like” object.
Bond admitted owning the bag and consented to its search (after it was already squeezed), the agent discovered a “brick” of methamphetamine. Bond moved to suppress the drugs, arguing that the agent conducted an illegal search of his bag, when squeezing it, in alleged violation of the Federal Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Court held that the agent’s “physical manipulation of petitioner’s carry-on bag violated the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against unreasonable searches.” The Court concluded that Bond “possessed a privacy interest in his bag,” and that such an expectation of privacy is reasonable. Physically invasive inspection is simply more intrusive than purely visual inspection, and a bus passenger “does not expect that other passengers or bus employees will, as a matter of course, feel the bag in an exploratory manner.”
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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