Court Rules Search of Tent Illegal

Court Rules Search of Tent Illegal
Posted by FoM on January 25, 2000 at 20:10:54 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Sacramento Bee
A camper's tent may be his castle -- even if he's an illegal marijuana grower -- and officers shouldn't enter without a warrant, says a federal appeals court.The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the drug and conspiracy convictions Monday of a man arrested in 1997 by federal agents who had found his name on a prescription bottle in a tent on government land in southwest Idaho.
Rodrigo Sandoval, sentenced to more than nine years in federal prison, claimed the search was illegal because the agents lacked a warrant and were not acting in an emergency. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge had upheld the search, saying a tent on Bureau of Land Management land doesn't have the same privacy protections as a home.In a 3-0 ruling, the appeals court said the tent was a private area, constitutionally protected from warrantless government searches.The tent was closed on all four sides and located in an area of virtually impenetrable vegetation, evidence that Sandoval had a reason to expect privacy, said the opinion by Judge Michael Hawkins.He noted that the court had previously upheld privacy claims by an occupant of a tent on a public campground. The legality of the search didn't depend on whether Sanchez had a right to be on the land -- an issue that was in dispute -- or on whether he was committing a crime, Hawkins said.In a separate ruling, the court said the conspiracy convictions of Sandoval, his brothers Alfredo and Gonzalo, and another man, Silvino Campos, had to be overturned for another reason. Lodge wrongly allowed prosecutors to introduce evidence of numerous marijuana sites in the surrounding area, without showing that the four men knew of those operations or conspired with the growers, the court said.The court also overturned the convictions of two other men, Jose Garcia-Garcia and Oscar Correa, because agents questioned them and obtained confessions without first telling them they had the right to have a lawyer present.The defendants all came from a small town in Mexico. The rulings entitle them to new trials.The cases are U.S. vs. Rodrigo Sandoval, 98-30130, and U.S. vs. Alfredo Sandoval, 98-30128. SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Published: January 25, 2000  Copyright  The Sacramento Bee 
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