Pennsylvania v. Labron, 518 U.S. 938 (1996) (per curiam)

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Per Curiam


on petition for writ of certiorari to the supreme court of pennsylvania

No. 95-1691. Decided July 1, 1996*

In No. 95-1691, police found cocaine when they searched the trunk of respondent Labron's car after observing him and others engaging in drug transactions on a Philadelphia street. In No. 95-1738, a search of respondent Kilgore's truck during a drug raid on his home turned up cocaine. In both cases, probable cause existed for the searches, but the police did not obtain warrants. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court suppressed the evidence seized in each case, holding that the Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant before searching an automobile unless exigent circumstances are present.

Held: The automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement requires only that there be probable cause to conduct a search. This Court's early cases establishing the automobile exception were based on the automobile's ready mobility, an exigency sufficient to excuse failure to obtain a search warrant once probable cause to conduct the search is clear. See, e. g., California v. Carney, 471 U. S. 386, 390- 391. More recent cases provide a further justification: the individual's reduced privacy expectation in an automobile, owing to its pervasive regulation. Ibid. This Court's jurisdiction in Labron's case is secure. The Commonwealth's automobile exception jurisprudence appears to be interwoven with federal law, and the adequacy and independence of any possible state-law ground for the exception is not clear from the face of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's opinion. Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S. 1032, 1040-1041. Since the opinion in Kilgore's case rests on the explicit conclusion that the officers' conduct violated the Fourth Amendment, this Court has jurisdiction to review that judgment as well. Certiorari granted; No. 95-1691, 543 Pa. 86, 669 A. 2d 917, and No. 95-

1738, 544 Pa. 439, 677 A. 2d 311, reversed and remanded.

Per Curiam.

In these two cases, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that the Fourth Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth, requires police to obtain a warrant

*Together with No. 95-1738, Pennsylvania v. Kilgore, also on petition for writ of certiorari to the same court.

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