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Illegal Search of Vehicle Leads to Reverse of Conviction
A ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeals in Orange County has declared that Douglas Schmitz’s guilty charge be reversed because of the illegal search of his car. Schmitz had three other passengers in his car when he was pulled over. The CHP officer thought he was lost and proceeded to ask for his forms and license. When she learned that one of the passengers was on parole she asked Schimtz if she could search the car. After he did not answer she asked everyone to get out of the car. The officer found two syringes and methamphetamine. The items were in a purse in the seat of the car. Schmitz was arrested and faced criminal charges which concluded in a guilty plea to four misdemeanors. During the lower court proceedings a judge denied Schmitz’s motion to suppress the evidence found in his car because there was no search warrant. In the decision of the Court of Appeals, Justice William W. Bedsworth said that as owner of the vehicle Schmitz did have a reasonable expectation of privacy although the parolee did not. However, Schmitz’s glove compartment, console and door pockets should have been free from the search since he was not the one on parole. The main reason for the search was because of the individual on parole and once that reason is invalidated by the court, the search becomes unreasonable causing the illegal items to be suppressed. See, Search and Seizure, 4th Amendment.