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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court reverses fourth amendment decision

In State of Indiana v. Allan M. Schlechty, a 10-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

We conclude that a warrantless search of a probationer‟s property that is conducted reasonably, supported by a probation search term and reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, complies with the dictates of the Fourth Amendment. * * *

As an additional condition of probation, Schlechty [had] agreed to submit to “reasonable warrantless searches” of his person and/or property by his probation officer in conjunction with other law enforcement officers * * *

Both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution require in general that searches should be conducted pursuant to a warrant supported by probable cause. And both this jurisdiction and the federal courts have recognized various exceptions to the warrant requirement. But this Court has consistently held, “[n]otwithstanding the textual similarity of Article I, § 11 of the Indiana Constitution to that of the federal Fourth Amendment, Section 11 is interpreted separately and independently from Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.” State v. Washington, 898 N.E.2d 1200, 1205-06 (Ind. 2008) (citing Mitchell v. State, 745 N.E.2d 775, 786 (Ind. 2001)). In this case neither party tells us whether it is advancing a federal or state constitutional claim. However, because both sides rely heavily on Griffin, we address the facts here under federal Fourth Amendment jurisprudence only and express no opinion on whether the result would be the same under Article I, § 11 of the Indiana Constitution. * * *

The warrantless search of Schlechty‟s car was supported both by reasonable suspicion to believe that Schlechty engaged in criminal activity and a search condition contained in his terms of probation. Also, the search itself was not conducted unreasonably. We therefore conclude that the search comported with the dictates of the Fourth Amendment. The trial court thus erred in suppressing the evidence seized thereby. The judgment of the trial court is reversed and this cause is remanded.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 24, 2010 11:02 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions