State v. Brock

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 05-06-2015
  • Case #: A154553
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Devore, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The “automobile exception” allows an officers to conduct a warrantless search of a vehicle provided that the vehicle is (1) mobile at the time it is first encountered by police and (2) there is probable cause for the search. Probable cause to search a vehicle is based on an officer's subjective belief that evidence of the crime exists, and that belief must also be objectively reasonable under the circumstances.

Defendant appealed two methamphetamine offenses, and specifically assigns error to the courts denial of a motion to suppress. Defendant was arrested on a warrant after police pulled Defendant over for expired vehicle registration. Although the registration expired in 2008 the vehicle had 2012 registration tabs. After the arrest the officer searched the vehicle and found a “dealers amount” of methamphetamine; Defendant grounds his appeal on the basis of this search. Defendant assigns two errors to the trial court: first, the State did not establish that the vehicle was mobile at the time of first encounter; and second, the police officer lacked probable cause for the search. The Court summarily dismissed Defendant's first argument as unpreserved. The Court next addressed the officer's probable cause for the search of the vehicle. Defendant attacked the objective reasonableness of the officer's belief that evidence of the crime existed within the vehicle, permitting a warrantless search. The Court held that given the evidence presented, a search of the vehicle was predicated on a reasonable belief that the vehicle contained contraband or evidence of a crime. Affirmed.

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