Facts: Petitioner Daniel Snapp’s automobile was searched after he was stopped for driving while wearing a defective seatbelt, admitted that he was in possession of drug paraphernalia, and was taken into custody. The search revealed evidence of identity theft and Snapp was subsequently convicted of first and second degree identity theft in the Superior Court for Pierce County. Snapp appealed his convictions on grounds that the search was unlawful and the evidence derived from it should have been suppressed. The Washington Court of Appeals held that the search was lawful under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. Gant, which held that a warrantless search of an automobile incident to the arrest of a recent occupant of the vehicle is lawful under the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution when it is reasonable to believe that evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle. Snapp appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Did the warrantless search of Snapp’s automobile incident to his arrest violate his right to privacy under Article I §7 of the Washington State Constitution?
Conclusion: Chief Justice Madsen’s opinion for the Court reversed the Washington Court of Appeals, concluding that the protection offered against warrantless searches by Article I §7 is broader than that offered by the 4th Amendment and that Arizona v. Gant’s exception to the general requirement that searches be conducted pursuant a warrant does not apply under Article I §7. In particular, the Court held that searches such as the search of Snapp’s automobile are unreasonable insofar as they are not necessary to preserve the safety of police officers or to prevent the destruction or concealment of evidence of the crime of arrest.
Petitioner: Daniel Snapp
(Counsel: Lila Jane Silverstein, Richard Alan Hansen, and Cooper David Offenbecher)
Respondent: State of Washington
(Counsel: Stephen Paul Hobbs, Stephen D. Trinen, and James Morrissey Whisman)
- ACLU Amicus
- Answer to WAPA Amicus
- Appellant Brief in Snappellant
- Appellant Brief in Wright
- Petition for Review in Snappellant
- Petition for Review in Wright
- Petitioner Wright Supplemental Brief
- Reply in Snappellant
- Reply in Wright
- Respondent Brief in Snappellant
- Respondent Brief in Wright
- Statement of Additional Auth
- Supplemental Appellant Brief in Snappellant
- Supplemental Brief of Petitioner Snappellant
- Supplemental Brief of Respondent in Snappellant
- Supplemental Brief of Respondent in Snappellant Dated 12-17-10
- Supplemental Brief of Respondent in Wright
- WAPA Amicus
- Wacld Amicus
Argument: Thursday, May 19, 2011 1:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Prevailing Party: Daniel Snapp (Petitioner)
Court: Madsen2 Court (2011)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.