Boykins v. State, Georgia Supreme Court, S11G0643, November 7, 2011. In a DeKalb County Drug Arrest, the Georgia Supreme Court held that it is the rare case that justifies a warrantless search. Boykins was observed pulled over talking to a woman on the side of the street. The police turned around. Boykins drove off to a nearby apartment complex where he lived. The officer approached the woman to ask her if she knew Boykins suspecting prostitution. The woman indicated that she did not know Boykins. The officer then pulled in behind Boykisn, asked for ID, and discovered a probation warrant. Boykins was frisked, handcuffed, and put in the back of a police car. A warrantless search was performed of the vehicle passenger compartment within the ” wingspan” of Boykins. Cocaine was found in the center console.
The Georgia Supreme Court held that it is a rare case that justifies a warrantless search. The US Supreme Court has held in its Gant decision that police may search a vehicle incident to arrest only if the arrestee is within reach of the passenger compartment at the time of the arrest (which is rare) or if the officer reasonably believes that the passenger compartment contains evidence of the arrest. Other exceptions include believing that the arrestee or other occupant of the vehicle is dangerous and might obtain access to a weapon in the vehicle; if there is probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of criminal activity; an officer may conduct a limited protective sweep of a house where an arrest is occurring to discover places where a dangerous person may be hiding, or an inventory search (although not mentioned in the opinion) can be done if the vehicle is to be impounded. The State presented no exception to the warrant requirement so the conviction was reversed.