Legal Memorandum: Warrantless Search and Arrest in MD

Issue: Whether a Maryland trial court erred in refusing to suppress the evidence obtained from the warrantless search of Defendant’s vehicle when there was no probable cause for Defendent’s warrantless arrest.

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Unquestionable lawful arrest; Warrantless search; Valid arrest
Jurisdiction: Federal, Maryland
Cited Cases: 844 A.2d 427; 856 A.2d 721; 589 A.2d 479; 106 Md. App. 145; 847 A.2d 1216; 835 A.2d 262; 380 Md. 231; 978 P.2d 191; 723 A.2d 494; 664 A.2d 60; 540 U.S. 366
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2005

The law is clear that only an automobile search incident to a valid arrest is permissible under the Fourth Amendment.  See New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454, 460 (1981) (“Accordingly, we hold that when a policeman has made a lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of an automobile, he may, as a contemporaneous incident of that arrest, search the passenger compartment of that automobile.”  (emphasis added)); State v. Fernon, 133 Md. App. 41, 754 A.2d 463, 475-76 (2000) (applying Belton, court approved search of passenger compartment of automobile incident to arrest where “arrest was unquestionably lawful”).

Ordinarily, an appellate court’s review of a denial of a Fourth Amendment suppression motion is limited to evidence presented at the suppression hearing.  Cartnail v. State, 359 Md. 272, 753 A.2d 519, 525 (2000).  However, when the motion to suppress is renewed during trial, the trial evidence does not contradict the suppression hearing evidence but confirms and explains it, and the trial is a court trial conducted immediately after the suppression hearing, the trial evidence should also be considered, at least to the extent it confirms and helps explain the suppression hearing evidence.

The trial court’s factual determinations may be rejected only when clearly erroneous.  Fernon, 754 A.2d at 464.  However, issues of law and mixed questions of law and fact are reviewed by this Court de novo.  Cartnail, 753 A.2d at 525.  When the Fourth Amendment is implicated by State action, this appellate Court must make an independent […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)