KALAMAZOO, MICH. – May 1, 2019 – On Monday, April 29, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled police officers cannot search vehicle passengers without consent, stating it violates the Fourth Amendment.
The decision stems from a case where a man said a Jackson County Sheriff Deputy searched his backpack without his consent. The court ruled the search of the backpack violated the Fourth Amendment after the man consented to be frisked for narcotics and weapons but not to search his backpack.
The court now says it is against the law for officers to search passengers without consent.
WWMT Channel 3 in Kalamazoo spoke with Levine & Levine criminal defense attorney Sarissa Montague who said the ruling is a big win for Michigan passengers.
“It’s simply something that has been unclear over the last few years. There have been some very strict rules about what officers are allowed to do,” she told WWMT, stating this is nothing new and that these sorts of ruling happen all the time.
Montague said the ruling of this case brings back a level of protection for passengers’ privacy. No matter if you are a driver or a passenger it’s vital that you know the law, she told WWMT.
“The people that are in a car for the past few years didn’t have what we call standing in order to question the search and what this case is now saying they do have the standing to question the search. You don’t lose your Fourth Amendment protection just because you are in a vehicle,” Montague said during the interview.
Read the WWMT full story, here.
In a separate blog post, Managing Editor Randall Levine explores why this state Supreme Court case is important for passengers.