State v. Steele

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 11-04-2015
  • Case #: A155512
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J.; Lagesen, J.; & Garrett, J. Per Curiam.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Article I, Section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, a police officer must have a "reasonable suspicion," which may include "reasonable safety concerns," to conduct a pat-down search during an investigation.

Defendant was convicted of felon in possession of a restricted weapon. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress. Defendant contended that the arresting officer unlawfully seized the weapon in question, and that during Defendant’s citation the police officer did not have a “reasonable suspicion” to inspect Defendant for weapons. The officer stopped Defendant for a littering violation, but stalled during the littering investigation to investigate Defendant for possession of a weapon. Defendant showed that, at trial, the arresting officer testified that conducting a pat-down search is a routine practice for him in any citation scenario. Defendant claimed that this seizure was an unlawful seizure under Article I, Section 9, of the Oregon Constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The State conceded that the search violated Article I, Section 9. The Court held that because the record did not show that the officer had “reasonable safety concerns,” evidence of the weapon must be suppressed. Reversed and remanded.

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