Held: The police did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they made an arrest that was based on probable cause but prohibited by state law, or when they performed a search incident to the arrest.
Here are the facts- Moore was pulled over and found to have a suspended license. Virginia law does not allow the police to make an arrest for this offense. Virginia police arrested Moore anyway. A search incident to the arrest produced 16 ounces of crack cocaine.
Moore filed a motion to suppress the search and the crack. Moore’s Motion was denied and he was convicted. Moore appealed and claimed that the 4th Amendment protects the public from illegal police conduct. Put simply- Moore’s argument was that when police break the law and search a citizen, the search is unreasonable.
Now we have what Drug Warriors have longed for, an end run around the pesky requirement of a warrant, probable cause, and/or actually viewing an arrestable offense to search for drugs.
The War on Drugs always leads to police corruption. Now it has led to a sanction for illegal police conduct. I never thought I would see the day that judges would ok illegal police activity. In hindsight, this decision is merely the cumulation of decades of bad decisions designed to save drug searches.
There are only two ways to advance Prohibition- More Cops/Jails or Less Freedom. We have more prisoners than any other country, and less 4th Amendment protections than ever. We are still losing the Drug War.
Is it too much to ask that police follow the law? Is 16 ounces of crack worth repealing the 4th Amendment?