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State v. Kentopp

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-08-2012
Case #: A145415
Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Haselton, C.J.; and Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A145415.pdf

Criminal Law: A police officer’s reasonable suspicion regarding one crime does not justify the extension of a lawful traffic stop for the purpose of conducting an investigation for an unrelated crime if the officer does not also have reasonable suspicion for that crime.

Defendant appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of methamphetamine, arguing that the arresting officer extended the duration of a traffic stop to conduct a drug investigation without reasonable suspicion that the defendant possessed drugs. Defendant was pulled over on Interstate 5 for not wearing a seatbelt. As the officer approached the car. he saw defendant leaning towards the floorboard on the passenger side. Defendant appeared nervous, had discolored rotting teeth, did not have any identification, registration, or proof of insurance, and claimed that he was borrowing the car from his boss. The officer asked if there were drugs in the car, and asked for Defendant’s consent to search the car. Defendant refused at first, but when the officer’s drug dog signaled to the driver’s side of the car, Defendant admitted that there was methamphetamine in the car. The Court found that leaning towards the passenger side of the car while being pulled over, Defendant’s nervous demeanor, and rotting teeth were not sufficient to amount to reasonable suspicion that Defendant possessed drugs. The officer’s drug investigation unlawfully extended the traffic stop and Defendant’s admission and drug evidence should have been suppressed. Reversed.