Atkins v. Commonwealth – Case Brief Summary (Virginia)

In Atkins v. Commonwealth (2010) 57 Va.App. 2 698 S.E.2d 249, the court considered a defendant's argument that Brendlin v. California (2007) 551 U.S. 249 afforded him standing as a passenger to object to a search of a vehicle stopped because a license plate lightbulb was burned out. (Id. at p. 8.)

In rejecting the argument, the court reasoned as follows: "Brendlin does not address a defendant passenger's right to contest the search of the vehicle; Brendlin addresses only a passenger's challenge to the stop itself. . . . . . . By its own language, Brendlin does not address whether a passenger can challenge the legality of a search of the vehicle in which he is a passenger." (Atkins, supra, at p. 8.)

The court proceeded to consider the facts under Rakas and determined the defendant lacked a legitimate expectation of privacy in an area under the seat where guns were found. (Atkins, supra, at pp. 8-9.)