The U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment usually requires a warrant for every search. No warrant is needed, however, if the search follows a constitutional arrest. If police reasonably suspect a misdemeanor under state law, arrest the suspect, and search him without a warrant, does the search violate the U.S. Constitution when state law prohibits the arrest?
In 2003, Virginia police stopped David Moore for driving on a suspended license. The officers then violated Virginia law by arresting Moore instead of issuing a summons. A follow-up search revealed cash and cocaine in Moore's pockets. Moore moved to suppress this evidence on grounds that the illegal arrest made the search unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Virginia responded that while Moore's arrest violated state law, the search was reasonable under the U.S. Constitution because it was incident to an arrest based on probable cause that he committed a crime. The trial court found the search constitutional and convicted Moore on drug charges. The Virginia Court of Appeals initially reversed but reinstated the conviction after hearing the case en banc. The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed the conviction, and Virginia appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. This case could affect many state laws concerning civil liberties and the way in which police think about illegal arrests.
Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties
In 2003, police in Virginia were discussing over the radio that someone nicknamed "Chubs" (David Lee Moore) was driving in the area. Moore v. Commonwealth, 622 S.E.2d 253, 255 (Va. Ct. App. 2005), rev'd, 636 S.E.2d 395 ( Va. 2006), cert. granted, 128 S. Ct. 28 ( U.S. Sept. 25, 2007) (No.