State v. Gordon

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-10-2015
  • Case #: A152242
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Haselton, C.J., for the Court; Nakamoto, P.J.; & De Muniz, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Art. I, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution, a traffic stop is unlawful unless the officer has probable cause to believe the driver committed a violation. Probable cause is established where the officer subjectively believes a violation occurred and if that belief is objectively reasonable under the circumstances.

The State appealed the trial court’s order granting Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during a traffic stop. The trial court granted the motion after finding that the officer did not have probable cause to stop Gordon, which made the stop unlawful and required suppression. Under Art. I, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution, a traffic stop is lawful only when the officer has probable cause to believe a driver committed a violation. Probable cause exists only where the officer subjectively believes a violation occurred and that belief is objectively reasonable under the circumstances. An officer’s subjective believe is “objectively reasonable” if, and only if, the facts as the officer perceived them, were they true, would satisfy the elements of probable cause. The Court found that the trial court confused the issues between a factual finding of whether a traffic violation occurred and the legal question of whether the officer had probable cause to stop Gordon. The correct analysis would have been for the trial court to determine whether the officer subjectively believed Gordon committed a traffic violation, and if so, if that belief objectively stratified the elements of probable cause. Vacated and Remanded.

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