Does the doctrine of "instrumentality of the crime" apply to the search of a vehicle?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from People v. Bittaker, 259 Cal.Rptr. 630, 48 Cal.3d 1046, 774 P.2d 659 (Cal. 1989):

In People v. Minjares (1979) 24 Cal.3d 410, 153 Cal.Rptr. 224, 591 P.2d 514, however, the court criticized the use of the "instrumentality of the crime" theory to justify the search of an automobile. 15 Holding that the doctrine did not permit the search of a closed container within a vehicle (at p. 423, 153 Cal.Rptr. 224, 591 P.2d 514)--a holding that does not affect the present case--the court remarked that "[i]f there were any vitality to the 'instrumentality' exception as it applies to automobiles ..., it would be applicable only to a scientific examination of the object itself, for example for fingerprints, bloodstains, or the taking of tire impressions or paint scrapings." (At p. 422, 153 Cal.Rptr. 224, 591 P.2d 514.)

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