Wednesday, November 16, 2005

PSA: Do not store contraband in your glove compartment

EDITED TO SAY: You might want to disregard the text of this post and just read the comments!

It's not like popular music has never given the youth of America incorrect information before. For instance, it is not true that love is all we need, nor that young girls should taste like brown sugar.

However, today's news that a member of 2 Live Crew is suing Jay-Z over the song "99 Problems" turned my attention to that problematic ditty. Ever since it came out this song has really bugged, because its inaccuracies might result in something worse than a lifetime of disappointing romantic encounters, namely Serious Trouble With Da Law.

So it's time for a Public Service Announcement. Readers: Your drugs and weapons are not safe in the glove compartment of your car, even if it's locked!*

To refresh your memory, here, in relevant part, is what Jay-Z tells us about 4th Amendment jurisprudence (whilst recalling a traffic stop from his past):

"Do you mind if I look round the car a little bit?"
Well my glove compartment is locked so is the trunk in the back
And I know my rights so you gon' need a warrant for that
"Aren't you sharp as a tack are some type
of lawyer or something?"
"Or somebody important or somethin?"
Nah I ain't pass the bar but I know a little bit
Enough that you won't illegally search my shit
Now, it's true that the Constitution generally bars warrantless searches, so in general you can say no if the cops ask if they can serach your car. However, that's kind of like saying that in general the sky is blue, so there's no need to own an umbrella, or that in general human beings are kind, so you can trust strangers.

In practice, if cops can come up with a reason why they're nervous that you might have a weapon or something, even if they don't have enough reason to arrest you they can still frisk you and search your immedate vicinity, which means your glove compartment if you're in your car, and the lock is not really going to be a big impediment, I don't think. Here's an example that's not exactly what happened to Jay-Z, but close enough.

Here ends this educational interruption . . . tomorrow we will return to our regular programming.

*I'm kind of getting into footnotes here, aren't I? This one is to say: I don't necessarily know what I'm talking about here, so if any of you do and would like to correct me or elaborate, please comment away or email me!


Blonde Justice said...

I disagree. I think the song makes a few valid points.

Very often I believe that police "assume" (and that's putting it nicely) that someone in a car has given them permission to search their car, and containers therein, when, in fact, they had not, would not. By locking your glove compartment, trunk, and whatever other containers you have in your car, you stop the police from searching first, and getting your "consent" later.

Second, a lot has been done on "grabbable area," and the protections are greater in some states than in the federal context, but I think that most courts would find that a LOCKED glove compartment, and certainly a trunk, are outside of the grabbable area, and, therefore would require a warrant before searching.

Moreover, rather than where to hide contraband, I think the verse emphasizes that you do have a right to speak up for yourself, and you don't have to consent to a search.

I think JayZ's song provides good, although certainly not infallible (but what is?) legal advice.

Sure better than my clients who leave their drugs and guns out on the passenger's seat.

T&A Lady said...

Word, Blonde Justice. Thanks for your rather-more-informed-than-mine opinion!

Mr. A said...

I too have numerous clients who seem to believe that it's fine and dandy to store guns and drugs in plain view, e.g. their laps. *sigh*.

Now, I didn't research any case law (that shit sux for the most part anyhow), but I think blonde justice is right. a locked glove compartment would be akin to a closed container or a trunk, and therefore require a warrant.

however! enter reality. the cops will most likely do whatever the fuck they want to when it comes to the interior of a vehicle (except the trunk, or, were we in jolly old blighty, the boot). perhaps whatever is seized will ultimately be suppressed. but in the meanwhile, you've probably been thrown into the slammer, lost your job, pissed off your main squeeze, and contracted Hep A at the very least. so: guns and drugs in the trunk, people! c'mon!

caitlin said...

>>"perhaps whatever is seized will ultimately be suppressed"<<

That's funny. so very, very funny.

Anyhow, I think Ms. Blonde Justice is right that it's about consent: don't give it.

As for whether the locked glove box is in the wingspan? It doesn't really matter. The fuckers'll do what they want anyway if they've got a big enough wild hair up their ass, and reverse engineer cause if they find something.

T&A Lady said...

Based on the very informative input from three Real Live Defense Attorneys, I conclude: try not to have drugs or weapons in the car at all; if you need to transport them, put them in the trunk; if pulled over, refuse to give consent to a search; if searched and busted anyway, be nice to your lawyer. :)

Blonde Justice said...

Now that's some good advice. =)

Lady_Jane said...

well i would like to kno like legally because a friend of mine just got busted with a possesion charge but the marijuanna was found in a locked glove compartment... the car was register under a minor and she is a minor herself. The officer informed her that he was goin to search the car and she didnt respond at all. The officer then said that he found particles on the seat and legally could unlock anything and tear the car appart.