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United States v. Arvizu

United States Supreme Court
534 U.S. 266 (2002)


Facts

A border patrol agent working in an area of Arizona often travelled by smugglers received an alert that a traffic sensor had been triggered and went to investigate. Based upon his experience, the agent became suspicious that Ralph Arvizu (defendant) might be smuggling contraband. The agent based this suspicion on numerous facts including:  the van occupants’ behavior, Arvizu’s effort to avoid checkpoints, the peculiar elevation of the back passenger’s knees, the fact that the van’s registered address was in an area populated by smugglers, and the fact that minivans are commonly used for struggling. The agent pulled Arvizu over, and Arvizu consented to a search of the vehicle. The agent found over 100 pounds of marijuana in the van. Arvizue was arrested for possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. Arvizu’s moved to suppress the evidence obtained during the stop on the basis that the stop was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The District Court for the District of Arizona denied the motion. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that none of the relevant facts gave rise to reasonable suspicion.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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