Tenth Circuit United States v. Neugin, 958 F.3d 924 (May 1, 2020)

May 1, 2020

Responding to a domestic argument in a restaurant parking lot, police lifted the camper lid on the back of the defendant’s truck to help his girlfriend retrieve her belongings. When police discovered a gun under the lid, the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress the gun, citing the “community caretaker” exception to the warrant requirement. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit reversed and vacated the defendant’s conviction, holding that there was no articulable concern for public safety justifying a warrantless search of defendant’s truck under the community caretaker exception. By the time the police arrived, the couple was no longer fighting and there was no reason for the police, rather than the defendant or his girlfriend, to access the truck.