In U.S. v. Tamari, No. 05-10618 (July 6, 2006), the Court rejected a defendant’s Fourth Amendment challenge to a search of his vehicle.
Law enforcement agents obtained a search warrant to search a rural property in Southwest Miami. The warrant authorized search of vehicles "on the property." While the search of the property was underway, the defendant appeared on the property, behind the wheel of a Hummer. After evasive answers and a failure to produce identification and the vehicle’s registration, the police searched his vehicle. It ultimately found evidence connecting Tamari to a drug trafficking conspiracy, for which he was convicted by a jury.
The Court rejected the argument that the warrant to search vehicles "on the property" did not authorize a search of a vehicle which was driven onto the property during the search, citing U.S. v. Alva, 885 F.2d 250 (5th Cir. 1989), which "passed on [this] precise question," and so also so held.
The Court stated that, in the alternative, the automobile exception applied, because the circumstances presented probable cause to search Tamari’s vehicle. The agents were searching a property which they believed was part of a large-scale drug conspiracy. They had already seized cocaine, cash and firearms on the premises when Tamari arrived in his vehicle. He gave evasive answers and was unable to produce identification or the vehicle’s registration.
Moreover, once a canine alerted to the vehicle this alone gave the agents probable cause for their search.