There being no valid arrest, the warrantless search that resulted from it was likewise illegal.

Second, there being no valid arrest, the warrantless search that resulted from it was likewise illegal.

          The following are the instances when a warrantless search is allowed: (i) a warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest; (ii) search of evidence in “plain view;” (iii) search of a moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless search; (v) customs search; (vi) a “stop and frisk” search; and (vii) exigent and emergency circumstances.[15] None of the above-mentioned instances, especially a search incident to a lawful arrest, are applicable to this case.

          It must be noted that the evidence seized, although alleged to be inadvertently discovered, was not in “plain view.” It was actually concealed inside a metal container inside petitioner’s pocket. Clearly, the evidence was not immediately apparent.[16]

          Neither was there a consented warrantless search. Consent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but shown by clear and convincing evidence.[17] It must be voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal search; that is, the consent must be unequivocal, specific, intelligently given and uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. While the prosecution claims that petitioner acceded to the instruction of PO3 Alteza, this alleged accession does not suffice to prove valid and intelligent consent. In fact, the RTC found that petitioner was merely “told” to take out the contents of his pocket.[18]

Whether consent to the search was in fact voluntary is a question of fact to be determined from the totality of all the circumstances. Relevant to this determination are the following characteristics of the person giving consent and the environment in which consent is given: (1) the age of the defendant; (2) whether the defendant was in a public or a secluded location; (3) whether the defendant objected to the search or passively looked on; (4) the education and intelligence of the defendant; (5) the presence of coercive police procedures; (6) the defendant’s belief that no incriminating evidence would be found; (7) the nature of the police questioning; (8) the environment in which the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly vulnerable subjective state of the person consenting. It is the State that has the burden of proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary consent was obtained, and was freely and voluntarily given.[19] In this case, all that was alleged was that petitioner was alone at the police station at three in the morning, accompanied by several police officers. These circumstances weigh heavily against a finding of valid consent to a warrantless search.

          Neither does the search qualify under the “stop and frisk” rule. While the rule normally applies when a police officer observes suspicious or unusual conduct, which may lead him to believe that a criminal act may be afoot, the stop and frisk is merely a limited protective search of outer clothing for weapons.[20]

          In Knowles v. Iowa,[21] the U.S. Supreme Court held that when a police officer stops a person for speeding and correspondingly issues a citation instead of arresting the latter, this procedure does not authorize the officer to conduct a full search of the car. The Court therein held that there was no justification for a full-blown search when the officer does not arrest the motorist. Instead, police officers may only conduct minimal intrusions, such as ordering the motorist to alight from the car or doing a patdown:

In Robinson, supra, we noted the two historical rationales for the “search incident to arrest” exception: (1) the need to disarm the suspect in order to take him into custody, and (2) the need to preserve evidence for later use at trial. x x x But neither of these underlying rationales for the search incident to arrest exception is sufficient to justify the search in the present case.

We have recognized that the first rationale—officer safety—is “‘both legitimate and weighty,’” x x x The threat to officer safety from issuing a traffic citation, however, is a good deal less than in the case of a custodial arrest. In Robinson, we stated that a custodial arrest involves “danger to an officer” because of “the extended exposure which follows the taking of a suspect into custody and transporting him to the police station.” 414 U. S., at 234-235. We recognized that “[t]he danger to the police officer flows from the fact of the arrest, and its attendant proximity, stress, and uncertainty, and not from the grounds for arrest.” Id., at 234, n. 5. A routine traffic stop, on the other hand, is a relatively brief encounter and “is more analogous to a so-called ‘Terry stop’ . . . than to a formal arrest.” Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U. S. 420, 439 (1984). See also Cupp v. Murphy, 412 U. S. 291, 296 (1973) (“Where there is no formal arrest . . . a person might well be less hostile to the police and less likely to take conspicuous, immediate steps to destroy incriminating evidence”).

This is not to say that the concern for officer safety is absent in the case of a routine traffic stop. It plainly is not. See Mimms, supra, at 110; Wilson, supra, at 413-414. But while the concern for officer safety in this context may justify the “minimal” additional intrusion of ordering a driver and passengers out of the car, it does not by itself justify the often considerably greater intrusion attending a full fieldtype search. Even without the search authority Iowa urges, officers have other, independent bases to search for weapons and protect themselves from danger. For example, they may order out of a vehicle both the driver, Mimms, supra, at 111, and any passengers, Wilson, supra, at 414; perform a “patdown” of a driver and any passengers upon reasonable suspicion that they may be armed and dangerous, Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968); conduct a “Terry patdown” of the passenger compartment of a vehicle upon reasonable suspicion that an occupant is dangerous and may gain immediate control of a weapon, Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S. 1032, 1049 (1983); and even conduct a full search of the passenger compartment, including any containers therein, pursuant to a custodial arrest, New York v. Belton, 453 U. S. 454, 460 (1981).

            Nor has Iowa shown the second justification for the authority to search incident to arrest—the need to discover and preserve evidence. Once Knowles was stopped for speeding and issued a citation, all the evidence necessary to prosecute that offense had been obtained. No further evidence of excessive speed was going to be found either on the person of the offender or in the passenger compartment of the car. (Emphasis supplied.)

            The foregoing considered, petitioner must be acquitted. While he may have failed to object to the illegality of his arrest at the earliest opportunity, a waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not, however, mean a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the illegal warrantless arrest.[22]

The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.[23] Any evidence obtained in violation of said right shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. While the power to search and seize may at times be necessary to the public welfare, still it must be exercised and the law implemented without contravening the constitutional rights of citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient importance to justify indifference to the basic principles of government.[24]

The subject items seized during the illegal arrest are inadmissible.[25] The drugs are the very corpus delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Thus, their inadmissibility precludes conviction and calls for the acquittal of the accused..[26]

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Arrest, Constitutional Rights, Dangerous Drug Act, Evidence, Warrantless Search and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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