« on: December 04, 2008, 07:33:49 PM »
Wow, I'm surprised with the attention this thing has received. Back to my initial question (hypo #2 with the car specifically).
First, I'm not sure that Acevedo solves the problem. My interpretation of Acevedo is that, where you have probable cause to search a container inside of a car, you have probable cause to search that area of the car:
In the case before us, the police had probable cause to believe that the paper bag in the automobile's trunk contained marijuana. That probable cause not allows a warrantless search of the bag. The facts in the record reveal that the police did not have probable cause to believe that contraband was hidden in any other part of the automobile and a search of the entire vehicle would have been without probable cause and unreasonably under the Fourth Amendment. - Acevedo
This does nothing to solve the problem of whether you can expand the scope of the search of the interior of a car to the trunk upon discovery of some new evidence.
It appears as though courts remain split on this issue. Wimberly v. Superior Court, 547 P.2d 417 (Cal.1976) says that the search of a trunk is illegal if you only have probable cause that the people are "occasional users rather than dealers." While U.S. v. Loucks, 806 F.2d 208 (10th Cir. 1986) says that such a distinction is illogical. Both of these are pre-Acevedo opinions, but neither has been undermined by Acevedo.
My guess is the issue remains undecided but, taking into account the favoritism towards bright-line rules and the nature of the auto-exception, most court would side with the Loucks decision.