State v. Ellis

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-26-2012
  • Case #: A145688
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Haselton, C.J.; and Duncan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a stop is lawful is based upon the officer's objectively reasonable belief that a crime has been committed. The possibility of alternative explanations for the defendant's conduct does not negate the reasonableness of the suspicion a crime has occurred.

The State appealed from an order granting Defendant's motion to suppress evidence. Defendant was stopped by a ground officer who suspected him of committing a "car prowl." The issue is whether the stop of Defendant was lawful. For a stop to be lawful, the officer must subjectively believe the individual has committed a crime and that belief must be objectively reasonable. For an objectively reasonable belief, the officer must be able to point to specific facts, found regardless of existing circumstances and the officer's experience, that a crime has been committed. The trial court concluded the stop was not based on an objectively reasonable suspicion based on alternative explanations for Defendant's conduct, and evidence obtained after the stop. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court applied an incorrect legal test in determining whether the stop was based on a reasonable suspicion. The possibility of an innocent explanation for Defendant's behavior does not negate the reasonableness of the suspicion that a crime has occurred. Evidence acquired after a stop cannot be used to establish or negate a reasonable suspicion; the relevant time period for this determination is at the time the officer acts. Reversed and remanded.

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