State v. Smith

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-26-2012
  • Case #: A146302
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Haselton, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A person is reasonable in believing that his liberty is being violated and that he is not free to leave when police officers take away his license, ask him to stand next to the police car, and block the exit from the area.

Defendant appealed his DUII conviction. Defendant was approached by Officer Stearns who requested that Defendant stand by his car. Shortly after, Officer Gathercoal arrived and parked his car across the entryway of the parking lot, blocking any exit or entrance. Gathercoal asked Defendant and his passenger for identification so he could run their names for warrants while Stearns conducted a DUII investigation on Defendant which revealed a .17 BAC. The trial court denied Defendant's motion to suppress evidence due to unlawful police detention. On appeal, Defendant argued that his detention violated his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures under Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution. The Court of Appeals found that when Gathercoal took Defendant's license to run a warrant check, Defendant reasonably believed he was deprived of his liberty and did not feel free to leave. In order to stop an individual, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that the person engaged in criminal activity or was about to engage in criminal activity. Because Gathercoal did not have reasonable suspicion that crime was afoot, the stop was unlawful. Reversed and remanded.

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