In this case the defendant (Velazquez) was arrested in his driveway. Officers then searched his car when a K9 alerted on the car. During the search, they discovered evidence which Velazquez sought to suppress as fruit of an unlawful search. The court ruled that the arrest in the driveway was not a Fourth Amendment violation as established under the rule of law set forth in United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38, (1976) (the warrantless arrest in the doorway does not violate the Fourth Amendment). The record did not establish whether the automobile was parked in the curtilage. But the court used the Leon “Good Faith Exception” to deny the motion to suppress because the officers acted in good faith under existing precedent, notwithstanding the recent Supreme Court decision in Collins v. Virginia (even if, for argument’s sake, the automobile was in the curtilage).
Bruce’s Two Cents: Remember Rikki Nikki Beene? In its motion to suppress, the defense cited the Fifth Circuit decision in United States v. Beene, 818 F.3d 157 (5th Cir. 2016) for the proposition that the automobile exception does not apply in the non-curtilage area of a residential driveway unless there are exigent circumstances. The Supreme Court denied certiorari in Beene, which is too bad because the Fifth Circuit took the limitation of the automobile exception to a much higher level than the Supreme Court did in Collins. Over two years ago in a Bruce’s Brownbag Webinar at FLETC, I predicted we would see Beene cited in other circuits. I am predicting now we will see a lot more of Beene type arguments in other circuits until the Supreme Court decides the issue.