Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Plain View Provides for Seizure of Pistol in Car

US v. Rumley: Rumley was driving a truck that was stopped because its taillights were not working. Once the officer discovered that Rumley was driving on a suspended license, he arrested him and placed him in the back of his patrol car. The officer then went back to the truck to ask the passenger to get out. When he did so, the officer noticed a silver pistol lying on the floor in front of the passenger seat. The passenger was also secured in the back of the patrol car, after which the officer retrieved the gun. Rumley was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He moved to have the gun suppressed, but the district court denied that request.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. It rejected Rumley's argument that the seizure of the gun violated the Supreme Court's recent Gant decision because he was safely secure in the patrol car before the gun was discovered and that the officer had taken the first step towards an illegal search. The court disagreed, holding that the gun came into plain view before the search began and therefore Gant was not applicable.

No comments: