This question comes from an officer in Missouri. Basically, the question is, “What qualifies as exigency when seizing a vehicle from curtilage?”
The officer goes into, some of the videos I’ve done on this issue; Episode 60, 94, 106, 282 and 324. That indicates to me that this officer is a follower of the channel, and I appreciate it. If you like these these videos, hit the subscribe button.
So the officer says, “Look, in video 106 you talked about maybe smoking marijuana in the driveway is exigency, but you don’t really say why.”
I assume it’s because of the destruction of evidence. And also, we don’t want these people to pull back into the roadway under the influence and cause a crash. So I would say that’s kind of my logic.
But the officer says, “Alright, what if we see what is obviously a stolen vehicle in a driveway? It’s clearly stolen, the tag is in plain view, I run the tag, everything matches, it is the stolen vehicle. I know I can’t just seize it, because we may have a Collins v. Virginia issue where the Supreme Court says you cannot seize stolen motor vehicles from curtilage just because it is stolen, right?
Whether or not it is curtilage, of course, is its own debate. But I like to say the driveway right next to the house, generally speaking is curtilage. Okay. But I work in a small town, you know, I don’t have a lot of resources. So by the time I come back with the warrant, the car could be gone”
Well, all I’m going to tell you is that if you have the facts of the circumstances, it’s up to you to justify this. I can’t do it for you. But if you have facts and circumstances that make you believe that the car is going to be gone by the time you return with the warrant, then the law would allow you to seize it under imminent removal of evidence and so forth.
But look, if it’s one o’clock in the morning, and by all accounts, everybody in the house appears to be asleep, and nobody knows that you’re on to them, I wouldn’t tell you that you should just go grab the car.
You might want to go and get your warrant just for your own legal safety and so forth. But if you pass the car and you see it’s stolen, there are people out there and they see you and they look like they’re alerted to what you know, then you’re going to take care of business, right?
If you have to leave and there’s nobody to sit on the car or there also may be a safety issue about sitting on the car and so forth, then you may have to act. But the point is, I don’t have a template for this, these agency issues when it comes to these cars.
I’m just letting you know that if you are going to grab the car from the curtilage, you’re going to have to articulate some form of urgency where you couldn’t get the warrant in the meantime. It’s a do it or lose it type of situation. That’s all I can tell you. That’s what you need to articulate.
I hope this gave you some advice. Keep the questions coming.
Until next time, my friends, stay safe.