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State v. Kurokawa-Lasciak

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-06-2011
Case #: S058898
Walters, J. for the Court; De Muniz, C.J.; Durham, J.; Balmer, J.; Kistler, J.; and Linder, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S058898.pdf

Criminal Procedure: The automobile exception to the warrant requirement defined in State v. Brown does not extend to parked, immobile, and unoccupied vehicles, absent exigent circumstances.

Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence from a warrantless search under Article I, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution. The trial court granted suppression and the state appealed. The Court of Appeals upheld the search under the automobile exception to warrantless searches because the vehicle was physically operable and therefore mobile. Defendant was suspected of money laundering and was interrogated by a police officer 30 feet from his vehicle. Defendant denied consent to search his vehicle, but the officer eventually received permission to search the vehicle from the defendant’s girlfriend, after several attempts. The search resulted in drugs and cash. State v. Brown defined the automobile exception to the warrant requirement as an automobile that was mobile at the time police stop it, and probable cause existed to search the vehicle. In this case, the Supreme Court declined to extend the automobile exception to parked, immobile, and unoccupied vehicles that are encountered by police, unless exigent circumstances exist. Defendant’s van was parked, immobile, and unoccupied at the time of the search, thus it was not subject to automobile exception to the warrant requirement. Reversed and remanded.