CA10: Inventory fails circuit’s standards, and seizure of machine gun reversed

Defendant didn’t have to show an investigative pretext for the impoundment of his vehicle and the finding of the machine gun. He prevails on the Tenth Circuit’s Sanders standard. “United States v. Sanders, 796 F.3d 1241, 1243 (10th Cir. 2015) (holding that to be valid under the community-caretaking doctrine, an impoundment must be both consistent with standardized policy and supported by a valid community-caretaking rationale)”: “(1) whether the vehicle is on public or private property; (2) if on private property, whether the property owner has been consulted; (3) whether an alternative to impoundment exists (especially another person capable of driving the vehicle); (4) whether the vehicle is implicated in a crime; and (5) whether the vehicle’s owner and/or driver have consented to the impoundment.” All these factors favor defendant, and the order denying suppression is reversed. United States v. Ramos, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 33173 (10th Cir. Dec. 15, 2023). [Caution: Few circuits or states have this rigorous a standard for inventory. Don’t be surprised if the Solicitor General petitions for cert for a uniform standard.]

There was no nexus shown between one of defendant’s cell phones and communication with others of interest on Snapchat, so the search warrant was not based on probable cause. The good faith exception, however, saves it because it was reasonable to believe the phone was used to set up drug transactions. United States v. Simpson, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 222785 (E.D. Ky. Nov. 20, 2023),* adopted, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 221723 (E.D. Ky. Dec. 13, 2023).*

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