For the professional edge in your day-to-day practice, rely on the most timely, objective reporting on significant developments, trends, and emerging patterns in criminal law today—Criminal Law...
Aug. 26 — Police executing a civil writ of attachment on a man who had disobeyed a court order to pay child support were authorized to search him for weapons under the search-incident-to-arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled Aug. 23 ( United States v. Phillips, 2016 BL 273057, 11th Cir., No. 14-14660, 8/23/16 ).
The decision clarifies in a matter of first impression that writs enforcing civil orders related to contempt are equivalent to criminal arrest warrants for purposes of satisfying the restrictions in the Fourth Amendment.
The court rejected Ted Phillips's argument that the officers didn't have authority to arrest him for a civil matter because the Fourth Amendment says warrants may only issue if there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed.
“The Fourth Amendment does not require warrants to be based on probable cause of a crime, as opposed to a civil offense,” the court said in an opinion by Judge William H. Pryor Jr.
In any event, Florida courts don't issue civil writs of bodily attachment unless they find a person liable for civil contempt by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a more exacting standard of proof than probable cause, the court said.
The court said the writ of attachment here is analogous to a bench warrant, which instructs the police to pick people up to ensure that they appear in court.
“Because bench warrants and writs of bodily attachment for unpaid child support are virtually indistinguishable, the long historical pedigree of the former convinces us that the latter also passes constitutional muster,” the court said.
The police found a gun in Phillips's pocket while detaining him on the writ of attachment and he was later convicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Judges Jill A. Pryor and Richard W. Story, sitting by designation from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, joined the opinion.
The U.S. Attorney's Office, Miami, represented the government. The Federal Public Defender's Office, Miami, represented Phillips.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lance J. Rogers in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: C. Reilly Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)