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RCO Exceptional Law for A Search Warrant and Probable Cause Case Study

 

The following are real-world scenarios. Read each scenario and discuss the applicable exception to the search warrant requirement.

Scenario 1:

An officer stops a car for speeding. The driver has a warrant for failure to appear on a misdemeanor battery case. The officer arrests the driver and searches the car. The officer finds cocaine in the center console. Which lawful exception to the search warrant applies? Does probable cause or reasonable suspicion exist?

Scenario 2:

An officer sees a suspicious 18-year-old male hanging around an open campus high school at the lunch hour. The officer sees the male exchange something for cash with another male. The suspicious male sees the officer and begins to walk away quickly. The officer stops the male, conducts a pat-down, and locates 10 pounds of marijuana in zip lock bags inside his coat. The male is arrested for possession with intent to deliver on school grounds. Which lawful exception(s) to the search warrant applies? Does probable cause or reasonable suspicion exist?

Scenario 3:

An officer is working with a news crew in a shopping mall parking to bring awareness to the high level of thefts that occur during the holiday months. While walking around the parking lot looking for examples of valuables in plain view, the officer sees what she believes is methamphetamine paraphernalia and methamphetamine in a small plastic bag. The officer opens the unlocked door and takes the paraphernalia and suspected methamphetamine. Which lawful exception(s) apply to this scenario? Does probable cause or reasonable suspicion exist?

Scenario 4:

Police officers on foot patrol make consensual contact with a female they have not seen before in the neighborhood, known for narcotics sales. The officers introduce themselves and ask for her name and date of birth, which she provides. The officers discover she has a warrant for her arrest. The officers handcuff and search the female. The officers find a bindle of heroin in her shoe. Which lawful exception(s) of the search warrant applies? Does probable cause or reasonable suspicion exist?

Scenario 5:

Officers are surveilling a residence where a burglary suspect lives. The officers take the suspects’ garbage bags (from the curb) and, inside the garbage, locate evidence of the burglaries. The suspect is also on probation. The officers arrange a probation visit with the probation officer. The probation officer enters the suspects’ residence, and police follow. More evidence of the burglaries is seen inside the house, and it is seized. The suspect is arrested for a probation violation and burglary. Which lawful exception(s) of the search warrant applies? Does probable cause or reasonable suspicion exist?

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