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State v. Wiggins

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-29-2011
Case #: A141607
Sercombe, P.J. for the Court; Brewer, C.J.; & Ortega, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A141607A.pdf

Criminal Procedure: A vehicle is considered mobile, and thus subject to the automobile exception to the warrant requirement, when nothing occurs to render the vehicle immobile between the time of the initial encounter with the vehicle and when the subsequent search occurs.

Defendant petitioned for reconsideration the Court of Appeals suppression of evidence found during a warrantless search of his car on the grounds his car was not subject to the automobile exception of the warrant requirement. Defendant was pulled over by police and taken into custody. 25 minutes later. Deputies searched his car and recovered loaded weapons that were later suppressed at trial. The Court of Appeals overturned the suppression of the weapons, holding the automobile exception to the warrant requirement applied because the vehicle was mobile when initially stopped, and there was probable cause to search the vehicle. The issue on reconsideration was whether the Supreme Court’s holding in Kurokawa II required the Court to reconsider its opinion. Kurokawa II stated that a parked, immobile, and unoccupied vehicle was not subject to the automobile exception. However, the Supreme Court did not define when a vehicle ceased to be mobile. Thus, the Court applied Meharry, which stated that a vehicle was mobile if nothing occurred between the initial encounter and subsequent search. The Court did not need to decide when a vehicle was not mobile because the automobile exception only required that a vehicle be mobile at the time of first encounter, and that probable cause existed to search the vehicle. Reconsideration allowed; former opinion adhered to as modified.