Virginia v. Moore

Moore was stopped by two police officers while driving on a suspended license. The officers arrested and searched Moore's hotel room, finding cocaine there. Moore challenged the submission of cocaine as evidence in court against him because he was arrested in violation of a Virginia statute. Virginia Code § 19.2-74(A)(1) provides that when a police officer detains a person for a Class 1 misdemeanor, such as driving on a suspended license, the officer must. issue a summons to the defendant and "forthwith release him from custody.” According to Moore, the police officers were not legally entitled to arrest him, but only to issue a summons and immediately release him from custody. Thus the cocaine was the fruit of the illegal arrest and should have been supressed. The trial court denied Moore's motion to suppress and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed, holding that the evidence should have been suppressed because Moore's arrest and search violated the Fourth Amendemnt. The police officers were authorized to issue only a summons to Moore for the offense of operating a vehicle on a suspended license and thus, based on prior United States Supreme Court precedent, the officers could not lawfully conduct a full search.

Question Presented:

Does the Fourth Amendment require the suppression of evidence obtained incident to an arrest that is based upon probable cause, where the arrest violates a provision of state law?

Decision under Review

Supreme Court Opinion