Vasquez v. State

In Vasquez v. State, 990 P.2d 476, 480 (Wyo. 1999), the Court examined and compared the protections secured by the United States and Wyoming constitutions concerning searches of automobiles and the containers found within automobiles when suspects are arrested. 990 P.2d at 482-89. The Court held that the Wyoming Constitution offers broader protection than the United States Constitution. Vasquez, 990 P.2d at 488-89. After reviewing earlier Wyoming Supreme Court decisions, the Court stated: "These past decisions establish that Wyoming Constitution Article 1, 4 allows searches incident to arrest and can be said to allow automobile searches because arrestees had possession of it, and the arrest authorizes law enforcement to search it for evidence related to the crime. The provision requires, however, that searches be reasonable under all of the circumstances." Vasquez, 990 P.2d at 488. The Court continued by stating that searches incident to arrest which are performed for the permissible reasons of locating weapons or evidence related to the crime are reasonable. Vasquez, 990 P.2d at 488-89. The Court stated: "Those courts independently analyzing their state constitutions to determine the permissible scope of an automobile search incident to the arrest of its driver or passengers usually have either a long tradition of such independent analysis or have sufficient constitutional history to permit departing from federal precedent through principled reasoning. In the case of Wyoming's search and seizure provision, there is little constitutional history available to provide clues as to the framers' intent when drafting it. Further hampering our analysis is the fact that this Court both initiated and then all but abandoned independent analysis of the state constitutional provision during the 1920s and 1930s and began determining search and seizure issues under the Fourth Amendment with strict adherence to United States Supreme Court decisions."