You are a deputy sheriff in Racine County. You and your partner have been on the force for many years. You are on patrol one night along Highway 41 when you observe a vehicle proceeding erratically. You observe the vehicle a few minutes and suspect the driver is intoxicated. You turn on your roof lights and pull up behind the vehicle. The vehicle does not stop immediately and continues to proceed down the highway, swerving from one lane to the other. The occupants in the back seat appear to be jumping up and down in their seats as does the driver and right-front passenger. After a few minutes, the occupants in the backseat turn around, and the vehicle suddenly pulls off the road before coming to an abrupt stop.
Your partner then approaches the vehicle from the passenger side. As you approach the driver’s window, you motion for the driver to lower the window, and he complies. You ask him for his license and registration. As the driver is handing you his license, you smell what you believe to be marihuana. You return to your vehicle as your partner watches the occupants of the vehicle. You call the information into the dispatcher and learn that the driver has a suspended license.
You return to the vehicle and order the occupants to exit and stand on the rear right-hand side of the vehicle. You ask the driver if there are any drugs in the vehicle, and he says no. You do not believe him and walk back to the driver’s window. You then observe what looks like the remains of an unfiltered cigarette in the ashtray. Between the front seats and near the console, you find cigarette rolling papers. You immediately begin searching the rest of the vehicle while your partner watches the occupants. During your search, you open the glove box and find four plastic bags of what appears to be marihuana and 19 small plastic containers of what looks like crack cocaine.
You and your partner then place all the occupants under arrest, direct them to the ground, and handcuff them together. During the arrest, you question the suspects about drug possession and other crimes they might have committed.
Legal Issue #1: Did you have the authority to stop the vehicle? Provide a list of references, and the analysis to support your conclusion.
Legal Issue #2: Did you follow legal requirements? Did you have legal authority to interrogate the suspect at the time of arrest? Provide a list of references, and the analysis to support your conclusion.
PART TWO: After reading the following scenario, respond to the legal issues involved.
Scenario: You observe a man driving slightly below the posted speed. You and your partner are bored and decide to pull the vehicle over just for something to do. You ask the driver for his license, and he complies. As the driver hands you his license, you smell what you believe to be marihuana. You return to your vehicle and learn from the dispatcher that the driver is a person of interest in a gang-related murder that took place yesterday. You and your partner place the occupants under arrest. You would like to search the vehicle immediately, but there are no back-up units that can assist you at the time because of other commitments. You notify the dispatcher to have the vehicle impounded.
The next day, while conducting an inventory of the vehicle, the officer in charge of the impoundment lot finds a small amount of marihuana residue, two kilos of cocaine, four grenades, and the body of a man who, you come to learn, was murdered two days earlier. Later that day, the detectives assigned to the gang-related murder receive an anonymous call from a person who claims that she heard that the driver might have been the shooter in the murder case. Other than the obvious dead body, no other evidence connecting the occupants to the murder was found in the car. Nonetheless, the detectives round up the occupants of the vehicle and arrest them for murder. During questioning, all of the suspects elect to remain silent and request legal counsel.
Legal Issue#1: Was the vehicle stop legal? Provide a list of references, and the analysis to support your conclusion.
Legal Issue#2: Was the inventory search in the impoundment lot legal?
Provide a list of references, and the analysis to support your conclusion.
Legal Issue#3: Can the illegal drugs and the weapons be used at trial? Provide a list of references, and the analysis to support your conclusion.
Leave a Reply