State v. Sexton

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 05-04-2016
  • Case #: A152752
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Hadlock, C.J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Article 1, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution a passenger is seized only if there is an imposition through physical force or some showing of authority that restrains the individual's liberty. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires a stop to be based a minimal level of objective justification for making the stop.

Defendant appealed a judgement of conviction for unlawful possession of methamphetamine, assigning error to the trial court’s denial of her motion to suppress evidence. Under Article 1, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution, the officer’s conduct did not amount to a showing of authority that created a seizure of Defendant, the passenger, during the ongoing traffic stop of the driver. A passenger is seized only if there is an imposition through physical force or some showing of authority that restrains the individual’s liberty. In this case, the officer’s request to search the car with the drug sniffing dog and the actual drug sniff were not a seizure of Defendant. Therefore the interaction never escalated to a seizure under Article 1, section 9, because the drug sniff would not lead a reasonable person to believe the officer had intentionally and significantly deprived Defendant of liberty or freedom of movement. Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, Defendant was unlawfully seized because the police failed to articulate a factual basis for the initial stop. The Fourth Amendment requires the stop of Defendant to be based on reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion requires a minimal level of objective justification for making the stop. In this case, the officer failed to articulate necessary facts to support a conclusion that the officer had objective, reasonable suspicion to stop the car in which Defendant was a passenger. Reversed and remanded.

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