Consider this recent ruling: U.S. Supreme Court rules against police over motorcycle search
In it, the court ruled that the police unlawfully searched a stolen motorcycle parked on private property in Virginia because they did not have a court-approved warrant.
The case involved a stolen motorcycle that was covered by a tarp and was parked on private property next to a house in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The man who stole the motorcycle was convicted for receiving stolen property.
Now, in this case, SCOTUS returned the case to a lower court, which will allow the police to argue exigent circumstances, or maybe rule that there were alternative measures that the police could have done.
So, suppose the court rules completely against the police. Barring no other evidence, the case is thrown out, the man's conviction is overturned, and he's free.
What happens to the bike? Is it returned to the person who stole it, or is it returned to the original owner on its title?
In this question...
There is discussion that the police do not have to return "contraband". So, maybe that answers my question - but I don't know the legal definition of contraband. Stolen property may be contraband (having a motorcycle certainly isn't) but the police can't show that the motorcycle was stolen, because legally, they can't use any evidence they have of it (fruit of the poisoned tree).
I guess if the cops keep the motorcycle, and the man then tried to claim it, they could get him for receiving stolen property again (new case), but the man who owns it probably wants his bike back. So that doesn't seem like a viable option.
How does this work?