State v. Morgan

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 09-30-2015
  • Case #: A155373
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. for the Court; Lagesen, P.J.; Schuman, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The automobile exception authorizes warrantless searches when officers have probable cause to search a vehicle that is mobile at the time that the police encounter it in connection with a crime; any search of an automobile that was parked, immobile and unoccupied at the time the police first encountered it in connection with the investigation of a crime must be authorized by a warrant.

Defendant appealed a judgment convicting him of felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant claimed the trial court erred in denying of his motion to suppress evidence obtained during a warrantless search of his vehicle. Defendant argued that the automobile exception did not justify the search when officers first encountered Defendant for a welfare check, and had parked the car and walked away from it. The State responded that the automobile exception should apply to searches when officers see a car drive down the street and, are interested in stopping the car for what the state described as “other lawful police conduct" if, shortly after the stop, officers develop probable cause to believe that the car contains evidence of criminal activity. The Court stated that in order for the automobile exception to apply the car had to mobile when officers encountered it in connection with a crime, and as one officer testified, even after the car was parked, and Defendant walked away they looked at it as a welfare check. The Court also declined to treat the phrase "encountered in connection with a crime" as merely dictum, and declined to consider an officers safety concern the same as a crime. Reversed.

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