The Change in Law Enforcement's Procedure to Protect Passenger's Rights Instructor

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The Change in Law Enforcement’s Procedure to Protect Passenger’s Rights Instructor: Dr. Betsy Witt
CRJ 340
Tarsha Jackson
Limestone University

In Wyoming v. Houghton (1999) impacted law enforcement procedure by its ruling states that law enforcement officer have a right to search a passenger’s personal possession, only if the law enforcement officer could present probable cause or the officer could prove contrabands and illegal activity . The automobile exception is recognized under the 4th Amendment to eliminate the requirements for search warrant of automobiles when there is probable cause established that contraband was located in the vehicle and illegal activities were involved (Chase, 1999, p.71). This paper will examine Wyoming v. Houghton case and the impact on law enforcement procedures in relate to Wyoming Supreme Court wrongful ruling. It will also examine two journals related to how Wyoming’s ruling effected probable cause standards. According to Wyoming v. Houghton (1999), was first developed on July 23, 1995 when David Young’s car was stopped for a traffic violation by Wyoming Highway Patrol Officer, Delaine Baldwin. Baldwin noticed that Young’s car had a broken brake light and Young was also traveling over the speed limit. Young’s passenger was his girlfriend and a young lady named Sandra Houghton. When the patrol officer approached the vehicle he noticed the syringe that was sticking out of Young’s shirt pocket. After his reasonable suspicion and probable cause, Officer Baldwin followed his procedure and demanded everyone to stand on road close to the car. Young was cross-examined from Officer Baldwin in reference to the syringe. Young told the officer the syringe was used for his drug usages (Wyoming v. Houghton, 1999). The officer asked both of passengers for their identification. However, Sandra Houghton responded her name was Sandra James and she did not have driver license. Baldwin had a valid reason to search the car. The search continued and Officer Baldwin spotted a purse in backseat with her driver license. The driver license conformed that she was Sandra Houghton. In her defense of the driver license, she responded “she did not want to be involved if something went bad was to happen”. This made officer more suspicions. The purse had a brown pouch that had several syringe with 60 cc of methamphetamine, a vial of paraphernalia, and also black billfold. Instance, Sandra responded to Baldwin the things he found did not belong to her. Of course, this gave Baldwin a reason to assume that Houghton was also taking drugs, by the needle marks. Houghton was place under arrested for evidence that was that was found. However, the other suspects were release (Wyoming v. Houghton, 1999). According to the case, prior to the trial Houghton submitted a motion to the Wyoming Supreme Court. The motion was denied to restrain the evidences from the court and her privacy rights as passenger being violate through the 4th Amendment. Instead, Wyoming Supreme Court was certain officer follows his procedure to before he obtained the illegitimate evidence. Wyoming Supreme Court established that Houghton was guilty of procession of control substance. Wyoming Supreme Court verdict was she had to serve three year maximum in the Wyoming Women Center. However, Houghton appealed the decision of the court violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. (Wyoming v. Houghton, 1999)

September 29, 1998, Wyoming Supreme Court’s verdict was overturned by the United States Supreme Court (Wyoming v. Houghton, 1998) According to the case, The United States Supreme Court declared: “Generally one by using valid probable cause officer is allowed to search all know container whether all know that a container is the personal effect of a passenger who is not suspected of a criminal activity, then the container is outside of the scope of the search unless someone had the opportunity to conceal the contraband within the personal...
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