Commonwealth v. CampbellAnnotate this Case
Defendant was stopped for failing to stop at a stop sign. The officer concluded that Defendant was using the vehicle without authority and decided to impound the vehicle. During an inventory search in preparation for impoundment, the officer seized a handgun and box of ammunition from the vehicle. Defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of a loaded firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the handgun, the ammunition, and statements he made to police. The municipal court allowed the motion to suppress. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order allowing the motion to suppress, holding (1) the police did not have probable cause to believe that Defendant was operating the vehicle he was driving in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, 24(2)(a), and therefore, the impoundment of the vehicle was not proper; and (2) therefore, the inventory search was not lawful, and the handgun and ammunition were properly suppressed.