The appellant, Glenn R. Swanger, was convicted by a jury of burglary. Post trial motions were denied and Swanger was sentenced to serve a term of ten to twenty years imprisonment. A timely appeal was filed in the Superior Court, which affirmed the judgment and conviction. Allocatur was granted by this Court and on November 8, 1972, the issue was submitted for decision without oral argument. On January 19, 1973, we reversed the judgment and conviction and remanded for a new trial. A petition for reargument by the attorney general of the Commonwealth was granted and the case was orally argued before the Court on April 24, 1973. After further consideration, we again reverse and remand the case for a new trial.
The following facts are established by the record:
On the night of April 1, 1970, at approximately 3:45 a.m., Swanger was a passenger in an automobile operated by one John Krall. Two Pennsylvania state police officers stopped the automobile for a "routine" check. The officers determined the operator of the vehicle did not have a valid driver's license, and the vehicle did not have valid registration plates. During the questioning, one of the officers pointed a flashlight in the automobile and noticed burglary tools on the floor of the vehicle. The two passengers were ordered to step out of the vehicle and placed under arrest for possession of burglary tools. Subsequent investigation linked appellant to a burglary, the conviction of which he challenges instantly.
Pretrial Swanger questioned the validity of the "routine" stop of the automobile and made a motion to suppress all evidence which was the fruit of the allegedly illegal stop. After a hearing, the motion to suppress was denied, notwithstanding the testimony of the arresting officer that he saw nothing unusual about the
Appellant argues the "routine" stop was violative of the Fourth Amendment,
The Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear the Fourth Amendment protects people wherever the individual may harbor a reasonable expectation of privacy. See Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 88 S.Ct. 507 (1967). Once it is established the individual is within an area where he has a reasonable expectation of privacy, he is entitled to be free from unreasonable intrusions by the government. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868 (1968).
The crucial question, therefore, is whether the stop or seizure of the vehicle here was unreasonable and, therefore, constitutionally impermissible. In assessing the reasonableness of a seizure, the Supreme Court of the United States has set forth the following standard: "[I]t is necessary `first to focus upon the governmental interest which allegedly justifies official intrusion upon the constitutionally protected interests of the private citizen,' for there is `no ready test for determining reasonableness other than by balancing the need to search [or seize] against the invasion which the search [or seizure] entails.'" 392 U.S. at 20-21, 88 S. Ct. at 1879, citing, Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523, 534-37, 87 S.Ct. 1727, 1735 (1967).
Focusing on the government interest, the Commonwealth asserts the automobile is a dangerous instrumentality,
The crux of our decision that a stop of a single vehicle is unreasonable where there is no outward sign the vehicle or the operator are in violation of The Vehicle Code, goes to the Commonwealth's argument the police need no justification to stop the vehicle. We rule before the government may single out one automobile to stop, there must be specific facts justifying this intrusion. To hold otherwise would be to give the police absolute, unreviewable discretion and authority to intrude into an individual's life for no cause whatsoever.
In Terry, supra, the Supreme Court aptly stated: "And in justifying the particular intrusion the police officer must be able to point to specific and articuable
The flaw in the Commonwealth's argument is it asks this Court to give the police absolute discretion and authority to intrude into the lives of people without any cause whatsoever. Under the Commonwealth's theory the police would need no justification to stop an automobile on the highway, and, hence, there could be
The Commonwealth argues the United States Supreme Court has sanctioned searches in regulated activities even in the absence of specific articulated facts to lead the officer to conclude that there is a violation of the law, citing, See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541, 87 S.Ct. 1737 (1967) and Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523, 87 S.Ct. 1727 (1967). We reject any implication in this position, that because an individual engages in a regulated activity he thereby forfeits his Fourth Amendment rights. But, accepting the asserted analogy of Motor Vehicle Code inspections and inspections under Housing and Fire Building Codes, we are not persuaded See and Camara, supra, control the instant facts. In See, the "search" was part of a routine, periodic city-wide canvass of commercial buildings, and in Camara the "search" was part of an annual inspection of dwelling houses. These situations lack the arbitrariness inherent in the present case. The "searches" in See and Camara were part of a systematic plan,
Since the instant record is clear the officers had no justification to stop the automobile Swanger was riding in, the stop was constitutionally impermissible, and the "fruits" of the unlawful stop or seizure should have been suppressed. Cf. Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 83 S.Ct. 407 (1963).
The order of the Superior Court and the judgment of the court of original jurisdiction are reversed and a new trial is ordered.
Mr. Chief Justice JONES and Mr. Justice POMEROY concur in the result.