Arizona v. Gant
What's at Stake
Reviewing conviction based on illegal police search of a car. DECIDED
The Fourth Amendment question in this case is whether the police have the right to search a car without a warrant whenever they arrest a “recent occupant” of the car. In this case, Tuscon police searched the car of Rodney Gant after he had stepped out of his vehicle. Gant was convicted of drug possession based on evidence the police found in the car. However an Arizona appeals court voided the conviction, finding that the warrantless search was illegal. The ACLU brief supports that ruling, saying that the “recent occupant” standard grants the police too much discretion to conduct warrantless searches, and that such searches should only be permitted if they take place at the same time as the arrest of someone who was seized (even if not formally arrested) while still inside the car.