Picture this, you’re walking down the street one day, minding your own business. You’ve done NOTHING wrong. You haven’t been accused of anything wrong, you haven’t broken any laws. Now, here comes John Q. Law out of the blue and he tells you to stop. Once you stop he asks for your ID to run a background check and finds you have an unpaid parking ticket from 3 years ago for $20 dollars and places you under arrest. Now, he searches you, “incident to arrest”, and finds a small baggie of Marijuana. Is that admissible?
The Supreme Court now says that it is.
Does this open up a fishing expedition for Law Enforcement? Justice Sotomayor said it best below:
“The officer’s discovery of a warrant was not some intervening surprise that he could not have anticipated. Utah lists over 180,000 misdemeanor warrants in its database, and at the time of the arrest, Salt Lake County had a “backlog of outstanding warrants” so large that it faced the “potential for civil liability.”
So think about this, if Utah has 180,000 active traffic warrants, think of what the entire United States must-have. Let’s say, for the sake of this argument, that each state has an average of 100,000 active misdemeanor warrants at any given time, we can assume that:
50 States x 100,000 = 5,000,000
Numbers provided by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
“[T]here are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States, which is the highest figure ever.”
With less than 1 million officers and conservatively, 5,000,000 active misdemeanor warrants, if officers used the guise of stopping someone to run them for a warrant, they would succeed every day in a 5 day work week with each officer stopping one random person a day to harass for warrants.
Think of that, an officer could nab himself one arrest per day if he just started asking random people for their ID. The US Constitution is used to protect us from this.