The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the People did not prove the search of a car which turned up a firearm and marijuana was a valid “inventory search:”
The People failed to carry their initial burden of establishing a valid inventory search of defendant’s vehicle. Court of Appeals precedent “requires that a police officer prepare a meaningful inventory of the contents of an accused’s car” … . Although the People failed to establish that the officers prepared the prescribed inventory search form, such failure is considered a mere “technical defect” and “is not fatal to the establishment of a valid search as long as (1) the search, in accordance with the ‘standardized procedure,’ is designed to produce an inventory and (2) the search results are fully recorded in a usable format” … . Here, the People failed on this latter point, since there was no evidence offered to show that the officers created the “hallmark of an inventory search: a meaningful inventory list” … . * * *
Ultimately, no form, list, or usable record was produced before the hearing court, and there is otherwise no basis on which to conclude that an inventory list or record of the search results was ever created, either during the search or after its completion. People v Cabrera, 2024 NY Slip Op 00685, First Dept 2-8-24
Practice Point: In order to prove items were seized from a car pursuant to a valid “inventory search,” some sort of inventory list must have been created during the search.