Va. Supreme Court reverses sentence that eviscerated convict’s Fourth Amendment rights
Praised be Virginia’s top court for reminding the lower courts that even the most heinous crimes do not rob convicts of all rights against government searches while
on probation. Last Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court reversed a child rape convict’s probation conviction allowing police and probation officer searches for no reason other than wanting to search. Murry v.
Virginia, ___ Va. ___ (Sept. 12, 2014).
Here is the elegantly simple sum and substance of the Court’s holding:
The defendant, Ronald Stuart Murry, Jr., is subject to a probation condition requiring him to submit to warrantless, suspicionless searches of his person, property, residence, and vehicle at any time by any probation or law enforcement officer. The probation condition is not reasonable in light of the offenses for which Murry was convicted, his background, and the surrounding circumstances. We will therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
Before raising a mug of beer in celebration over the Virgnia Suprme Court’s Murry decision, remember that the U.S. Supreme Court requires nothing more than reasonable suspicion to search a probationer, when that is a condition of probation, versus the higher probable cause standard that otherwise applies to searches. U.S. v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112 (2001).