316 A.2d 797 (Conn.Cir.Ct. 1973), State v. Colon

Citation:316 A.2d 797, 6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 722
Opinion Judge:JACOBS, Judge.
Party Name:STATE of Connecticut v. Ramon L. COLON.
Attorney:Richard R. Brown, Asst. Prosecuting Atty., for the state. Alan E. Silver, New Haven, for the defendant.
Judge Panel:JACOBS,
Case Date:August 08, 1973
Court:Circuit Court of Connecticut

Page 797

316 A.2d 797 (Conn.Cir.Ct. 1973)

6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 722

STATE of Connecticut


Ramon L. COLON.

Circuit Court of Connecticut.

Aug. 8, 1973

Richard R. Brown, Asst. Prosecuting Atty., for the state.

Alan E. Silver, New Haven, for the defendant.

[6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 723] JACOBS, Judge.

The defendant has moved to suppress for use as evidence against him 'any papers or other documents pertaining to the registration and identification numbers of a 1969 Ford Galaxie 2 door hardtop bearing the Connecticut Registration No. 7187 B,' on the ground that that evidence was obtained by means of a search which was conducted without either a search warrant or the consent of the defendant and which was not incident to a lawful arrest.

The following pertinent facts appear from the record: Officers of the Hartford police department went to a junk yard, where they observed a 1969 Ford with a missing public vehicle identification number (PVIN). After locating the Ford's hidden vehicle identification number (HVIN), which is the same as its PVIN on this particular model, the officers checked the number with the Connecticut department of motor vehicles and ascertained that a vehicle with that supposedly unique identification number was registered to a person-not the defendant-in North Haven, Connecticut. Later that afternoon the Hartford police officers, along with officers of the North Haven police

Page 798

department and an agent of the federal bureau of investigation, proceeded to the North Haven address and placed a 1969 Ford Galaxie under surveillance. At some point after the surveillance commenced, the defendant got into the automobile, drove it out of the driveway and proceeded south along Middletown Avenue. The car was then stopped by the North Haven officers, who asked the defendant to produce his driver's license and motor vehicle registration. This he did. Observing the PVIN through the windshield of the car and finding it to be identical to the HVIN of the 1969 Ford at the junk yard, the officers concluded that the PVIN had been tampered with and placed the defendant under arrest for violation of General [6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 724] Statutes § 14-149, entitled 'Mutilated Factory or engine number.' The vehicle was then impounded and later determined to have been stolen from Springfield, Massachusetts.


Courts differ as to the legality of obtaining a motor vehicle's identification number without a search warrant. Some have held a warrantiess search to be illegal-and the number inadmissible in evidence-when the vehicle's inspection was not incident to a lawful arrest. United States v. Nikrasch, 367 F.2d 740 (7th Cir. 1966); Simpson v. United States, 346 F.2d 291 (10th Cir. 1965). Other courts, however, have admitted evidence of the number on the theory that the inspection which disclosed it was not a search within the meaning of the fourth amendment or, alternatively, that the search was reasonable or the accused lacked standing to contest it. United States v. Williams, ...

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