State v. Thomas

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 02-03-2016
  • Case #: A155662
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, J., for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Art. I Section 9, subjective perceptions of "unusual" glances between defendants may not be sufficient to uphold a warrantless search under the "officer safety" exception to the bar on the admission of evidence procured during a warrantless search.

Defendant and another man were stopped by a police officer for jaywalking. Defendant did not have identification, and appeared “agitated” to the police officer. Defendant and his partner appeared to the officer to be communicating non-verbally through an exchange of glances. The officer perceived this as “unusual,” and conducted a patdown search of Defendant. The officer felt what he believed to be the handle of a shotgun in Defendant’s waistband. Defendant was apprehended and charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. At trial, Defendant moved to suppress evidence of the firearm because the search was warrantless and violated Defendant’s rights under Article I Section 9. The trial court found that the officer was justified to perform the search under the “officer safety” exception and Defendant was convicted of both charges. Defendant appealed on the ground that the “officer safety” exception did not apply to the situation in which he was arrested. The Court held that there were no elements of the stop which would cause officer sufficient fear to trigger to “officer safety” exception to Article I, Section 9. Reversed and remanded.

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