S.D.N.Y.: Littering from a livery cab justified stop and search of the cab

A littering offense from a livery cab in NYC justified a stop of the cab and entering it for further evidence of the crime. That resulted in a plain view. United States v. Abreu, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1945 (S.D. N.Y. Jan. 6, 2021):

As a result, when the officers witnessed a person throw litter from the rear passenger-side window of the livery cab, they had probable cause to believe that they had witnessed a crime. It is not disputed that they were entitled to stop the livery cab, conduct an investigation, and arrest the person who had littered. “If an officer has probable cause to believe that an individual has committed even a very minor criminal offense in his presence, he may, without violating the Fourth Amendment, arrest the offender.” Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318, 354 (2001). See also United States v. Scopo, 19 F.3d 777, 781 (2d Cir. 1994) (officer can arrest a person who violates the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law in the officer’s presence); People v. Ormsby, 816 N.Y.S.2d 623, 624 (2006) (police officer had probable cause to arrest defendant for littering).

Having concluded that the crime of littering had occurred, Officer Kern was entitled to enter the livery cab to retrieve evidence of the crime. It is undisputed that the footwell near Livingston’s seat contained such evidence, specifically, the plastic white “takeout” bags. …

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