October 22, 2014
The Nevada Supreme Court has broadened the authority of police to conduct searches of vehicles and their contents, citing a split U.S. Supreme Court decision in which dissenting justices raised constitutional concerns.
The Nevada high court's ruling tossed out a Clark County District Court judge's finding that an officer went too far when he moved a detached center console in a man's car and found a handgun and three baggies of marijuana.
The lower court judge who said the officer went too far in the vehicle search relied on an earlier state Supreme Court finding against unreasonable "dismantling" of someone's vehicle.
The latest state Supreme Court opinion cites a 1991 U.S. Supreme
Court decision that said the "totality of circumstances" must be considered in such cases.
In dissenting, then-Justice Thurgood Marshall said an officer conducting a consensual vehicle search should get additional consent to search any containers. Otherwise, he said there's a violation of the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.
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