KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A man said a Jackson County Sheriff Deputy searched his backpack without his consent.
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled the search of the backpack violated the Fourth Amendment, after the man consented to being frisked for narcotics and weapons but not to search his backpack.
The court is now saying it is against the law for officers to search passengers without consent.
Criminal Defense Attorney Sarissa Montague from Levine & Levine Attorneys at Law said the ruling is a big win for Michigan passengers.
She said this is nothing new and that these sorts of ruling happen all the time.
"It's simply something that has been unclear over the last few years. There has been some very strict rules about what officers are allowed to do," she said.
She said the ruling of this case brings back a level of protection for passengers' privacy.
No matter if you are a driver or a passenger it's vital that you know the law, Montague said.
"The people that are in a car for the past few years didn't have what we call standing in order to question the search and what this case is now saying they do have standing to question the search. You don't lose your Fourth Amendment protection just because you are in a vehicle," said Montague.
Victor Ledbetter, director of Kalamazoo Valley Community College Law Enforcement Training Program, said the ruling will affect training in the near future.
He said the ruling is not "Earth-shattering" and with a few adjustments he is sure future Michigan law enforcement will comply with the law.
"This again is nothing that is going to be shocking throughout the law enforcement community. It's just another thing that we have to be aware of so that we won't violate anyone's rights," Ledbetter said.
The law is in regards to consent searches only and if officers have probable cause they reserve the right to still search a vehicle, Ledbetter said.