Reason to Search
The two vehicle stops were made for different reasons. The first vehicle, the white Toyota Camry, was stopped because it fit the description of a vehicle that was just used in a bank robbery. This gives the police probable cause that the vehicle contains evidence of criminal activity. According to Carroll v. United States that is sufficient reasoning for a stop (211). The second vehicle had the driver’s side brake light out. This is sufficient cause to pull the vehicle over because that is a traffic violation.
?In Whren v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the true motivation of police officers in making traffic stops was irrelevant as long as they had probable cause to believe that a traffic law had been broken (211).?
I feel that both stops were justified and neither violated the rights of the suspects. Fitting the description of suspects and being in the general vicinity of the crime is adequate evidence to pull a vehicle over and check out the situation. The second stop was made because the driver had violated a traffic code. Since the vehicle is breaking this law the police have the right to pull over that vehicle. The officers even took the vehicle to the station to obtain a search warrant when the suspect objected. Both stops were done in a legal manner.
The warrant less search of the white Toyota Camry was justified because the suspect did not say no when the officer asked to search the vehicle. The officer did not come right out and ask if he could search the trunk, but the suspect never objected. Instead the suspect begins to not cooperate which leads to more suspicion. The behavior of the suspects and the fact that neither suspects objected to the search is reason enough to for a warrant less search.
If the suspects in the white Toyota Camry had been advised of their Miranda rights before the search of their vehicle then the police would have had to obtain a search warrant. But by denying the police the right to search your vehicle is almost implying guilt in itself. I think the only difference getting a search warrant would have done is prolonged the police finding the evidence in the trunk. Either way I think the situation would result in the police finding the rifle and the suspects getting arrested.
If the officers had opened the trunk and found no evidence of the robbery then I think they could only take the suspects in for questioning. Since this questioning would be in an accusatory manner then the suspects would need to be advised of their Miranda rights. If the suspects exercised their right to an attorney then they would be advised to keep their mouths shut. Without evidence to incriminate the suspects then the suspects would be released and probably questioned again later. With the only basis for charging being that the suspects and their vehicle fit the description of those in a robbery then in all likelihood the suspects would not be charged.