Arizona v. Gant Case Brief

Facts of the case

Rodney Gant was apprehended by Arizona state police on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license. After the officers handcuffed Gant and placed him in their squad car, they went on to search his vehicle, discovering a handgun and a plastic bag of cocaine. At trial, Gant asked the judge to suppress the evidence found in his vehicle because the search had been conducted without a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. The judge declined Gant’s request, stating that the search was a direct result of Gant’s lawful arrest and therefore an exception to the general Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. The court convicted Gant on two counts of cocaine possession.The Arizona Court of Appeals reversed, holding the search unconstitutional, and the Arizona Supreme Court agreed. The Supreme Court stated that exceptions to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement must be justified by concerns for officer safety or evidence preservation. Because Gant left his vehicle voluntarily, the court explained, the search was not directly linked to the arrest and therefore violated the Fourth Amendment. In seeking certiorari, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard argued that the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling conflicted with the Court’s precedent, as well as precedents set forth in various federal and state courts.


According to the Supreme Court, the vehicle of the respondent may be searched after the arrest for a suspended license only if the court believes that the arrestee may access the vehicle at the time of arrest or the latter contains evidence of the crime he was being arrested for.

  • Advocates: Joseph T. Maziarz argued the cause for the petitioner Anthony A. Yang Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner Thomas F. Jacobs argued the cause for the respondent
  • Petitioner: Arizona
  • Respondent: Rodney Joseph Gant
  • DECIDED BY:Roberts Court
  • Location: 2524 N. Walnut
Citation: 556 US 332 (2009)
Granted: Feb 25, 2008
Argued: Oct 7, 2008
Decided: Apr 21, 2009
Arizona v. Gant Case Brief