State v. Miller

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 03-30-2016
  • Case #: A149963
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, P.J. for the Court; & Wollheim, S.J.; Hadlock, C.J., dissenting.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Article I, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution, questioning an otherwise cooperative driver about weapons based solely on that driver’s license to carry a concealed firearm permit where there are no other circumstances indicating that the driver poses a threat to the officer, may constitute an unlawful extension of a traffic stop, and any statements obtained because of the officer’s questioning should be suppressed.

Defendant appealed the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence of his statements made during a traffic stop, resulting in his eventual conviction under ORS 166.240(1) for carrying a concealed weapon. Defendant was stopped while driving his semi-truck at 12:30 at night. The officer checked the Defendant’s identification and discovered that Defendant was licensed to carry a concealed firearm. The officer asked if Defendant had any weapons on him, Defendant responded in the affirmative, and removed two knives from his boot. After successfully completing field sobriety tests, Defendant was cited for carrying a concealed weapon. Defendant argued at trial that, under Article I, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution, the officer’s questioning unlawfully extended the stop, and therefore any evidence obtained because of that unlawful extension should be suppressed. The trial court admitted the evidence on grounds that the officer’s questioning of whether Defendant was carrying any weapons was reasonably related to the officer’s safety, based on his knowledge that Defendant had a concealed-carry license. Defendant appealed, renewing his argument. The Court determined that, given the totality of the circumstances, the officer’s statements were not objectively reasonable based on a perception of danger, as Defendant had been perfectly cooperative throughout the stop, and there was nothing in Defendant’s record to indicate that he posed any danger to the officer. Consequently, the officer’s questions were an unlawful extension of the stop, and Defendant’s statements should have been suppressed. Reversed and remanded.

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