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Terry V. Watson Case Analysis

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In a decision made by the United States Supreme court, it was decided “that motor vehicles deserve a reduced expectation of privacy (Atkinson, 2011). This decision is in response to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The case of Elliot Watson delves into why no warrant was needed to search the trunk of his car.
The arrest of Mr. Watson and the search of his vehicle were valid. It was valid based on probable cause, which allows Officer Johnson to execute a warrantless search of the entire vehicle and all of the containers within. Carroll v. United States. There were a few examples given that would establish probable cause. Based on Terry v. Ohio, if an officer has reasonable suspicion that a person is about to commit a crime, the suspect may be detained and searched for weapons. In this case, it was Elliot Watson approaching the patrol car while the officer was running the
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Belton, allows an officer to search any area that belongs to the arrestee without a warrant. However, it is the Arizona v. Gant case, a ruling that put restrictions on Belton searches, that gives further evidence to the fact that the warrantless search of the trunk was valid. This case declared that a vehicle is allowed to be searched after an arrest only if “there is an ongoing threat to the safety and welfare of the police or the public.” Officer Johnson had reason to believe that Wanda Jones, the missing three-year-old girl, could be in the trunk of Elliot Watson’s sports car, and the officer was therefore allowed to search the trunk, believing there to be a threat to Wanda Jones’
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