I really like T.I and Tiny and find myself wishing only the best for them. So, I am never happy to hear their legal woes and brush with the law. But as I say often when life happens, “it is what it is.” Now it’s about fixing the issue. Hopefully, they can sort out their legal issues. In the meantime, let’s look at their arrest and specifically the “search and seizure” of the controlled substance(s) allegedly found on them which the police claims formed the basis for the arrest.
“As we first reported, cops pulled over T.I.’s ultra-expensive Maybach on Sunset Blvd around 10:18 PM (Sept. 2nd, 2010) for a traffic violation and then smelled marijuana. During a subsequent search of the vehicle, cops say they found a controlled substance — we’re told it was not cocaine. The class of the controlled substance that was found includes methamphetamines and ecstasy.
Both were booked on felony possession of a controlled substance.
They were released on $10,000 bail.
As we previously reported, T.I. was released from federal prison back in December — where he served 7 months behind bars for illegally possessing machine guns and silencers.
Law enforcement confirms … T.I. is still on probation from the gun conviction, which means last night’s arrest could qualify as a violation of his probation … and he could be sent back to prison.” . . .
“We’re now told that the substance was allegedly ecstasy. And, our law enforcement sources call it a “small amount.”
The pills are being tested.”” ~TMZ
The bolded part of the news above from TMZ is what I want you to pay even closer attention to.
What the Law says on “Searches and Seizures”
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits people from unreasonable searches and seizures. If you are searched and an item seized from you, the question is, was the search valid in the first place? Without the warrant, such search would be invalid, except if an exception applies.
The “Stop & Frisk”
Assume you are walking over to your music studio/atelier or set to get about the business of fashion/or entertainment. The police can briefly detain you for investigative purposes even if they lack “probable cause” to arrest you. Once they stop you, if the police thinks you might have weapons or you are armed and dangerous, they can frisk you i.e. search your body to make sure you have no weapons etc. This is a “search incident to the arrest,” one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement.
If the Police Lack Probable Cause Why am I Being Stopped?!
The law says all the police needs is a reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal activity is either taking place or you are involved in a crime. There is a famous case in criminal procedure called Terry v. Ohio, a US Supreme Court case where this rule originates.
What is “Reasonable Suspicion?”
The Supreme Court in Brown v. Texas said, “well, let’s see. We can’t quite define it. But we will say it requires something more than a vague suspicion.”
If you have a puzzled look on your face, join the club.
How do You Meet the “Reasonable Suspicion” i.e. More than a Vague Suspicion Standard?
In United States v. Sokolow, the Supreme Court said, “well it is based on a totality of the circumstances.” A police officer looks at the surrounding facts that creates “reasonable suspicion.”
What Constitutes a Stop?
It is simple. When the police stops you and you ask, “I’m I free to go?” If the answer is yes, keep walking. If the answer is no, you are detained and that constitutes a stop.
When Does a Stop Become an Arrest?
When the police believes they have probable cause to arrest you.
What is Probable Cause?
Probable cause (PC) is when, at the time of the arrest, the police had reasonable belief based on the facts and circumstances to believe that you have committed or are committing a crime.
When the Police Stops you for a Traffic Violation, When Can they Search you?
Generally speaking, if the police will search you, they need a warrant. The exception?
Caroll v. United States (a 1925) case decided by the US Supreme Court is a case that said, look, “if the police have probable cause to believe that a vehicle such as an automobile contains evidence of a crime or contraband, among other things, then the police may search a vehicle without a warrant.” They can search your entire vehicle and containers in it. NOTE: If they have probable cause to search a container in your vehicle, then they can’t search the entire vehicle.
In T.I’s case, the police claim they had probable cause to search his vehicle because of the “smell of marijuana” which means, to them, there was an indication that criminal activity was ongoing.
I’ve tried to keep this simple but “search and seizure” law is anything but simple. You need to hire an attorney to handle your criminal matter if you find yourself in T.I and Tiny’s situation, or worse.
That’s it from me today.
FASHIONENTLAW blog, authored by Ms. Uduak, was first established in 2010. It is now incorporated, in 2021, as part of the FASHIONENTLAW LAW FIRM blog. The blog is for informational purposes only and provides legal commentary and analysis on the intersection of mainstream America pop culture and the law. It also provides updates on Ms. Uduak’s speaking engagements and press activities. For inquiries on topics covered please email (firstname.lastname@example.org).