Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law

OSJCL Amici Board of Advisors

OSJCL Amici: Views from the Field

Arizona v. Gant

The issue in this case involves the search incident to arrest exception to the 4th Amendment warrant requirement. In the present case, police surveilled Gant’s house waiting for him to return home. Gant arrived home, exited his vehicle, and was arrested by the police officers. While he was handcuffed and under supervision in the back of a patrol car, and while the scene was secure, police officers conducted a warrantless search of his car and found cocaine and a firearm. Gant was convicted on this discovery and appealed. The Ct. of Appeals for Arizona reversed this conviction, and the Supreme Ct. of Arizona refused to hear the case. Subsequently the State petitioned the Supreme Court, which vacated the opinion and remanded for reconsideration in light of State v. Dean, which held that warrantless searches are not justified when arrestee is not a recent occupant at the time of arrest, the justifications for warrantless search –protection of arresting officers and preservation of evidence no longer serve as a justification. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld their previous decision, determining that since there was no danger to the officers or need to preserve evidence, nor was their any other valid exception to the warrant requirement, the search was unlawful. This decision was appealed and granted certiorari by the Supreme Court.



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