Can You Be Arrested for Giving a False Name to a Police Officer ?
Can a Police Officer Arrest You for Giving a False Name?
In Davis v. U.S. (June 16, 2011) U.S. 131 S.Ct. 2419, officers conducted a routine traffic stop in 2007, two years before Arizona v. Gant (2009) U.S. 129 S.Ct. 1710 was decided.
They arrested the driver for being under the influence and the defendant/passenger for giving a false name. The officers removed them from the vehicle, placed them in handcuffs, and seated them in separate patrol cars. The officers then searched the passenger compartment of the vehicle and found a revolver inside the defendant's jacket. (Davis, supra, at p. 2425.)
The defendant moved to suppress the evidence but acknowledged the search was valid under New York v. Belton (1981) 453 U.S. 454. (Davis, supra, at p. 2426.)
The trial court denied the defendant's suppression motion, and the defendant was convicted. Gant was decided while the defendant's direct appeal was pending. The Eleventh Circuit held the search of the car incident to arrest was invalid under Gant. However, the Eleventh Circuit declined to apply the exclusionary rule and held the contraband was not subject to suppression, concluding that penalizing the arresting officer "for following binding appellate precedent would do nothing to 'deter ... Fourth Amendment violations.' " (Davis, supra, at p. 2426.)
Davis held that Gant was retroactive to cases pending on direct appeal at the time it was decided. (Davis, supra, 131 S.Ct. at p. 2431.) However, Davis further held the evidence seized from the car during the search incident to arrest was not subject to the exclusionary rule because the officers conducted the search in "objectively reasonable reliance on the binding appellate precedent" of Belton, and because "suppression would do nothing to deter police misconduct in these circumstances, and because it would come at a high cost to both the truth and the public safety ...." (Davis, supra, at p. 2423.)
Davis reviewed the derivation of the Belton rule, and acknowledged that "for years, Belton was widely understood to have set down a simple, bright-line rule. Numerous courts read the decision to authorize automobile searches incident to arrests of recent occupants, regardless of whether the arrestee in any particular case was within reaching distance of the vehicle at the time of the search. Even after the arrestee had stepped out of the vehicle and had been subdued by police, the prevailing understanding was that Belton still authorized a substantially contemporaneous search of the automobile's passenger compartment." (Davis, supra, 131 S.Ct. at p. 2424.)
Davis noted that the officers' search of the vehicle followed then-existing precedent "to the letter," and their conduct "was in strict compliance" with then-binding case law "and was not culpable in any way." (Id. at p. 2428.)
Davis concluded that "the harsh sanction of exclusion 'should not be applied to deter objectively reasonable law enforcement activity.' Evidence obtained during a search conducted in reasonable reliance on binding precedent is not subject to the exclusionary rule." (Davis, supra, 131 S.Ct. at p. 2429.)
Davis further held that while Gant was retroactive, "it does not follow ... that reliance on binding precedent is irrelevant in applying the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule." (Davis, supra, at p. 2432.) "We therefore hold that when the police conduct a search in objectively reasonable reliance on binding appellate precedent, the exclusionary rule does not apply." (Id. at p. 2434.)