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Implications of the Whren Decision

Implications of the Whren Decision

The United States Supreme Court decided the Whren Decsion in 1996, after a 5-4 vote. The Whren Case began a new era and standard in Search and Seizure Law. The opinion was delivered by Justice Scallia, which upheld the conviction of the appeals court and ruled the search and seizure was constitutional.

Several "plainclothes" officers, otherwise undercover police, were patrolling a known drug area in the District of Columbia, on the night of June 10, 1993. The police became suspicious of a dark Pathfinder truck with temporary license plates waiting at a stop sign. Inside were two youths, one of which was looking down at his lap. They remained at the light for an abnormal length of time, which caused the police to become more suspicious. The police car then turned around, so it was behind the Pathfiner, when the Pathfiner suddenly turned right without using a turn signal and at a fast "unreasonable" speed. The police then followed.

At the next traffic light, they pulled up along side and Officer Ephraim Soto went over to the car and identified himself as a police officer. After asking the youths in the car to put it in park, he noticed two large plastic bags of what looked to be crack cocaine in the petitioner, Whren's hands. The petitioners were then arrested and several types of illegal drugs were found in the car. They were then charged with a four count indictment with violating several federal drug laws. During a pretrial hearing, the argued the legality of the stop, then resulting in the seizure of the drugs. They argued the stop was not justified because there was no probable cause to believe or any reasonable suspicion, that they were engaged in illegal activity.

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