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Arizona v. Gant

From lawbrain.com

Arizona v. Gant, 129 S Ct 1710 (2009), was a criminal procedure case heard by the United States Supreme Court which dealt with warrantless vehicle searches incident to a lawful arrest.

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Summary of Case Facts

Police, looking for Gant, went to his home only to discover he was not there. Police officers were waiting for him as he arrived, and Gant voluntarily exited the vehicle with no resistance. The officers then arrested him, and secured him in a police vehicle. The police later entered his vehicle to search it and discovered illegal drugs and a handgun. Gant was charged with possession of narcotics and paraphernalia. At trial, Gant moved to suppress the evidence seized from the search of his vehicle as he claimed the search had been conducted without a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure. The trial court denied the motion and Gant was convicted. He appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals, who agreed with Gant and overturned his conviction. That decision was eventually appealed to the United States Supreme Court.


May officers conduct a warrantless search of a suspect’s vehicle after the suspect voluntarily exited and was consequently arrested?

Holding and Law

Maybe. The court opined that police may have the authority to search a vehicle’s passenger compartment incident to a recent occupant’s arrest provided that it would be reasonable to believe the arrestee might access the vehicle at the time of the search or that the vehicle contains evidence of the offense for which the suspect is being arrested.

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