Acting on an anonymous tip that a residence was being used to sell drugs, Tucson, Arizona, police officers knocked on the front door of the residence. Rodney Gant opened the door, and the police asked to speak to the owner. Gant identified himself and stated that the owner was expected to return later. The police officers then left the residence. Later, the police conducted a records search that revealed that there was an outstanding warrant for Gant’s arrest for driving with a suspended license.
When the police officers returned to the house that evening, Gant drove up in an automobile, parked in the driveway, got out of his car, and shut the door. One of the police officers called to Gant, and he walked toward the officer. When Gant was about 10 to 12 feet from the car, the officer arrested Gant, handcuffed him, and locked him in the backseat of a patrol car.
The police officers searched Gant’s car and found a gun and a bag of cocaine in the passenger compartment. Gant was charged with possession of a narcotic drug for sale. At the criminal trial, Gant moved to suppress the evidence seized from the car on the ground that the warrantless search violated the Fourth Amendment. The Arizona trial court held that the search was permissible as a search incident to an arrest and admitted the evidence. The jury found Gant guilty, and he was sentenced to prison. Gant appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. Was the search of Gant’s car a reasonable search? Was it ethical for Gant to protest that the evidence was not admissible against him? Arizona v. Gant, 129 S. Ct. 1710, 2009 U. S. Lexis 3120 (Supreme Court of the United States, 2009)