Court Finds Police Violated 4th Amendment During Car Stop

Over the years the Torrance Court has been very diligent in protecting the rights of those persons accused of criminal offenses. The Fourth Amendment states that a person cannot be searched or detained unless the police have probable cause to believe that criminal activity is afoot. In this case, the California Court finds the police officer violated the Constitutional Rights of the accused when he detained the occupants of the car following a traffic stop.

While investigating a report of a stolen cell phone, a Deputy Sheriff learned the following information: (1) the reported theft occurred two hours earlier; (2) the suspect was a young black male wearing blue; (3) the suspect may have been the accused, a probationer living at a nearby apartment complex; (4) the defendant’s family had a gold van, which the deputy had been instructed to watch for; and (5) there was a report of someone matching the suspect’s description walking away from Bates’ apartment complex toward a mobile home park. Deputy went to the mobile home park and stopped a tan car driving toward the park’s exit. He later testified that his sole reason for the stop was that “there were people in the car.” The deputy found Bates in the car and located evidence that appellant moved to suppress. The trial court denied the motion.

The appeals Court reversed the trial courts decision. Considering the facts in the totality of the circumstances, the Deputy had no reasonably articulable suspicion that either the occupants of the tan car or the car itself may have been involved in criminal activities. The detention was based solely on generalized suspicion and was unlawful as a result. Appellant’s probation search condition did not make the stop reasonable because Gidding did not know appellant was in the vehicle when he stopped it. The probation condition also was not an intervening circumstance that sufficiently attenuated the Fourth Amendment violation. Disagreeing with previous Court decisions pertaining to this issue, the court found that discovery of a probation condition after the fact will not necessarily sanitize the unlawful detention. This is particularly true where the detaining officer, without knowledge of the condition, unlawfully seizes a defendant in the hopes that something might turn up. (Courtesy CCAP)

So, here is what will happen in the case at this point. It will be sent back to the District Attorney and the evidence that was found after the detention was deemed illegal will be thrown out. The case will likely be completely dismissed.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty five years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV regarding license suspension hearings stemming from drunk driving arrests.
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