California vs. Carney involves a Drug Enforcement Agency Agent, Robert Williams, who was observing respondent, Charles Carney, as he approached a youth in downtown San Diego. Having received previous information that that particular motor home was being used to exchange sex for marijuana, Williams accompanied by other agents kept the motor home under surveillance (Kamisar, La Fave, Israel, King, p 260, 2002). During the time that the agent had Carney under surveillance, he saw Carney bring the youth back to his motor home, which was parked in a lot (Kamisar, et al., p 260, 2002). After approximately an hour and fifteen minutes the youth exited the motor home.
The youth was then stopped by the agents who engaged him in conversation. At this point the youth told the agents that he had received marijuana in return for allowing Carney sexual contact (Kamisar, et al., p 260, 2002). Cooperating with the agents, the youth returned to the motor home and knocked on the door. When the respondent stepped out one of the agents entered the home without having a warrant or any form of consent. Inside the agent saw marijuana, and a following investigation at the precinct exposed more marijuana. Charles Carney was charged with ownership of marijuana for sale (Kamisar, et al., p 260, 2002).
In California vs. Carney, the California Supreme Court questioned if the warrant less search of the respondent's motor home violate his Fourth Amendments right to privacy. After his motion to exclude the evidence found in the motor home was denied, the California Supreme Court held that the search of the motor home was unreasonable and that the motor vehicle exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment did not apply to this case. They reasoned that the expectations of privacy in a motor home are more reminiscent of those in a private residence than in a vehicle (Kamisar, et al., p 260-61, 2002). The court was able to some to this conclusion based on the idea that the "expectations of privacy in a motor home are more like those of a home rather than a car because the most important function of motor homes is not to endow with transportation but to provide the occupant with living quarters" (Kamisar, et al., p 261-62, 2002).
The Fourth Amendment protects the "right of the people to be secure on their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" (Gpo. gov, p 1238, 1996). This fundamental right is conserved by obligation that searches be conducted pursuant to a warrant issued by a magistrate. The "automobile exception" to a warrant requirement set forth by Carroll vs. United States, which recognized that the privacy interest in an automobile are constitutionally protected but justify a lesser degree of protection (Kamisar, et al., p 260, 2002). Justices Steven, Brennan, and Marshall joined, dissent the opinion of the court. In the case of Carney, the motor home was parked in an empty lot near the courthouse.
The curtains were also down indicating to the agents that there was no suggestion of Carney just getting up and moving the motor home. The officers had probable cause to arrest the petitioner after arresting the youth however; they could have taken the safeguard of obtaining a warrant as well (Kamisar, et al., p 263, 2002). The motor home also obtained the mobility of an automobile but also many of the attributes of the privacy one would possess in a home. However, "that court has held that the mobility of the place to be searched is not a sufficient justification for abandoning the warrant requirement" (Kamisar, et al., p 263, 2002). In the case of California vs. Carney, It is my opinion that searches of places that accommodate and serve as living headquarters are essentially different from the searches of automobiles. I believe that this is not a beneficial addition to American Law, because even though it was a motor home, not a house made of concrete bricks or wood, it still provides the same comfort and protection that a house does and therefore the same privacy protections should apply.
There are many people that own motor homes in America who consider their motor homes their private houses, if these people can not be protected by the Fourth Amendment, then why call is just that a motor "home". Reference: (1996). The Constitution of the United States of America: Fourth Amendment, (pp. 1199-1269). web retrieved April 10, 2005. Kamisar, La Fave, Israel, King (2002).
California vs. Carney. In Basic Criminal Procedures (10th ed., pp 260-266). United States of America: West Publishing Co. (Originally printed in 1994).