State v. Beasley

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 05-21-2014
  • Case #: A146742
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Sercombe, J.; and Duncan, J., dissenting.
  • Full Text Opinion

An individual is not “stopped” when an officer engages in “mere conversation” with the individual absent an explicit or implicit show of authority that objectively restricts the individual’s liberty; an individual is not “seized” when an officer requests and checks the individual’s identification with the consent of the individual, and retains the identification for a reasonable period of time to examine it.

Defendant appealed from a conviction of two counts of failure to register as a sex offender under ORS 181.599. After consuming alcohol, Defendant fell asleep in his vehicle, where an officer discovered him slumped over the steering wheel in the early morning hours. Suspecting a medical issue or intoxication, the officer parked across the street, turned on his spotlight to illuminate Defendant’s vehicle and woke Defendant by tapping on the passenger side window. The officer then moved to the driver’s side of Defendant’s vehicle and questioned Defendant, who admitted to consuming alcohol earlier that night. The officer suspected that Defendant had driven or could potentially drive while intoxicated and asked Defendant for his identification in a casual tone. The officer asked whether Defendant had warrants, was on probation and whether the officer could check his record; Defendant responded with consent to check his record. The officer discovered that Defendant was a sex offender who had failed to register and arrested Defendant. Defendant was convicted after a bench trial and appealed the trail court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the records check. The court held that the officer’s request for identification was “mere conversation” and not a stop or an arrest; because no explicit or implicit “show of authority” was present, Defendant could not show that, objectively, he was not free to terminate the encounter. The officer’s request for identification, check of the validity of identification, and retention of the identification for a reasonable period were not “seizures” for constitutional purposes without a showing that the context, content or manner of questioning restrained Defendant’s liberty. The evidence obtained was properly admitted. Affirmed.

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