BIG: Judge Rules Warrantless Search of Rental Car is Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon ruling relied on a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision which upheld rental car drivers’ privacy rights, even when they aren’t listed as the authorized drivers on rental agreements and are alone in the car.
This ruling allowed for the release of Teondre Antonio Bonner on Thursday, August 29, 2019, even though he must stay under federal supervision for three months as prosecutors mull over whether they will appeal.
“I really do encourage you to view this as, ‘You got a break because we’re a country of laws,’” the judge told Bonner in court that day. “And now it’s time for you to start following the laws and do things honestly.’’
Bonner didn’t consent to the search of his 2018 Subaru Outback wagon rental after he was stopped for alleged traffic violations on August 10, 2018. He told law enforcement that his girlfriend rented the car and gave him permission to drive it.

Simon wasn’t convinced by the prosecution’s arguments that police received consent from the rental company to conduct a search.

Police found a loaded .44 revolver and a package containing a kilogram of cocaine in the rental car.

Simon told Bonner, “That evidence is not appropriate to introduce at trial against you.’’

If the government appeals, Bonner may remain on federal supervision. If they decide to not appeal, the charges will be thrown out. The judge asked all parties involved to check back with him in three months for an update on his case.

The rule of law in America still applies. Although it’s likely that Bonner was involved in gang activity, the nature of the search conducted against him was unconstitutional nonetheless.

However, the acts of possessing guns and drugs should not be treated as inherently criminal as current laws do.

Instead, law enforcement should focus on tackling gang activity that exclusively involves actual crimes such as murder, theft, and fraud. This is why criminal justice reform is a must.

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