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Third Circuit Court of Appeals Finds Probable Cause to Search Fugitive’s Vehicle

Posted On: September 11, 2014 by Marc Neff

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has recently decided the case of United States v. Donohue. The case was a result of a government appeal from the grant of a motion to suppress physical evidence. Mr. Donohue was a fugitive and was apprehended while he entered his son’s automobile. The police proceeded to conduct an extensive and lengthy search of the vehicle, ultimately finding a firearm and other evidence.

In the District Court, a motion to suppress the physical evidence was presented. The Court suppressed the evidence because the police had no information whatsoever about the vehicle. The police lacked information that the vehicle contained contraband or other evidence of a crime and there was insufficient probable cause even under the automobile exception. The government appealed to the Court of Appeals and the decision was reversed. The court concluded that there was probable cause to search the vehicle in view of the agent’s “extensive experience with fugitives who are likely to have false identification documents to be found in places where those items are ready and available to gather up and leave quickly, such as their cars.”

All persons charged with crimes are entitled to the protections afforded by the United States Constitution and the rules of evidence in a criminal court of law. An experienced criminal defense attorney helps to ensure that a defendant’s rights are protected before, during and after a trial. If you have been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately. For a confidential consultation, contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff at (215) 563-9800 or via email at

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