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State v. Dennis

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-27-2012
Case #: A145087
Duncan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Haselton, C.J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A145087.pdf

Criminal Law: An officer may not extend the duration of a stop by inquiring into unrelated criminal matters as an alternative to going forward with the processing of the current infraction. Any evidence that is obtained by inquiring into unrelated criminal matters is admissible only if it is obtained during an "unavoidable lull" in the initial stop.

Defendant appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of methamphetamine. Officer Lutu (Lutu) stopped Defendant for jaywalking. Lutu relayed Defendant's information to dispatch to confirm his identity and to check for warrants. During the 30 seconds it took for a response, Lutu patted down Defendant discovering 3 knives and a container containing methamphetamine. On appeal, Defendant claims the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence that was obtained by a warrantless search. Defendant argued that his consent was invalid because it occurred as an unlawful extension of an otherwise lawful stop because the search did not occur during an unavoidable lull. Pursuant to State v. Berry, it is the State's burden to prove that an investigation of an unrelated criminal matter took place during an unavoidable lull. In this case, The Court of Appeals held the State was unable to prove that Lutu's request to remove the container occurred during an unavoidable lull and therefore, the trial court should have granted Defendant's motion to suppress evidence. Reversed and remanded.