Brendlin v. California

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In Brendlin v. California, 127 S. Ct. 2400 (2007), a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held that a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic check has a Fourth Amendment right against unlawful seizure. The passenger "was seized from the moment [the driver]'s car came to a halt on the side of the road, and it was error to deny his suppression motion on the ground that seizure occurred only at the formal arrest."

Justice David Souter, writing for the Court, reasoned that a reasonable passenger would not feel free to leave from such a stop. The Court held that:

"When a police officer makes a traffic stop, the driver of the car is seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The question in this case is whether the same is true of a passenger. We hold that a passenger is seized as well and so may challenge the constitutionality of the stop.

As a result, the seizure of methamphetamine paraphernalia may be suppressed from evidence if found to be lacking in adequate cause for the search under the Fourth Amendment.

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