Search Following Unlawful Arrest, Virginia v. Moore (amicus)

David Lee Moore was stopped by police for driving on a suspended license.  Under Virginia law, because driving with a suspended license is a class 1 misdemeanor, the police should have simply issued a citation and let him go.   Instead, they arrested him.  They performed a search incident to arrest, and found cocaine.   He was convicted of possession with intent to distribute.  Both the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court reversed his conviction, holding that because the police lacked authority to arrest, the search was invalid and violated the Fourth Amendment.  The Attorney General petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for cert, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.  On December 10, 2008, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of Moore, arguing that the Virginia Supreme Court correctly held that the search was illegal and the evidence should have been excluded.  The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on January 14, 2008. On April 23, the Supreme Court ruled that the arrest based on probable cause and the subsequent search did not violate the Fourth Amendment even though the arrest violated state law.

Court Documents:

Brief Amicus Curiae- U.S. Supreme Court (pdf)


Rebecca K. Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia; Steven R. Shapiro, Emily Chiang, ACLU national office

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Susan Herman, New York

Date filed

December 10, 2007


U.S. Supreme Court