Fourth Amendment: Scope of Privacy Rights in Arizona
Arizona’s Supreme Court has recently granted certiorari and will soon consider a case which could determine the permissible scope of when an officer may legally frisk the companion(s) of a person taken into police custody. The state’s Supreme Court will review the current Arizona Court of Appeals decision that held law enforcement cannot simply frisk a legally detained person’s companion(s) as a routine police practice. However, the Court of Appeals decision also held that officers may lawfully frisk companion(s) of those legally detained where officer safety reasonably justifies the privacy infringement. The Court of Appeals indicated a number of factors that could impact whether a frisk is reasonably justified to include the nature of the person’s relation to the detained individual, the number of officers on scene, the environment at the time of the detainment and frisk and other possible circumstances surrounding a specific detainment and frisk. The case at bar stems from the frisk of Appellant who challenges his conviction for possession of marijuana based on the assertion that the frisk in his case constituted an unlawful search in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s privacy guarantees.