Johns, United States v. 469 U.S. 478 (1985)

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JOHNS, UNITED STATES v. 469 U.S. 478 (1985)

This case continued a trend of decisions by which the automobile exception to the fourth amendment'ssearch warrant requirement expands without discernible limits. Warrantless automobile searches were first tolerated because a culprit might suddenly drive away with the evidence of his guilt before a warrant could be obtained. That possibility became the basis of holdings that if a vehicle can constitutionally be searched at the time it is found or stopped, it can be impounded and searched later; and if the vehicle can be searched, sealed containers found within may be opened and searched, too. In Johns the Court ruled that if officers unload the containers and store them, instead of searching them on the spot, three days later the containers may be opened without a warrant and any contraband that may be found can be introduced in evidence. Only Justices william j. brennan and thurgood marshall dissented from the opinion of the court by Justice sandra day o'connor.

Leonard W. Levy

(see also: Chambers v. Maroney; Ross, United States v.)

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Johns, United States v. 469 U.S. 478 (1985)

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