9th Circuit: Our question is whether law enforcement officers may extend a lawfully initiated vehicle stop because a passenger refuses to identify himself, absent reasonable suspicion that the individual has committed a criminal offense. We conclude that they may not do so.
Reversing the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a traffic stop, the panel held that law enforcement officers may not extend a lawfully initiated vehicle stop because a passenger refuses to identify himself, absent reasonable suspicion that the individual has committed a criminal offense.
The panel recognized that Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1609 (2015) (holding that an officer may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop but may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual), at least partially abrogated United States v. Turvin, 517 F.3d 1097 (9th Cir. 2008) (holding that an officer did not transform a lawful traffic stop into an unlawful one when, without reasonable suspicion, he took a break from writing a traffic citation to ask the driver about a methamphetamine laboratory and obtain the driver’s consent to search the his truck). The panel held that because the district court’s approval of the duration of the stop in this case was based on Turvin and disregarded Rodriguez, it was premised on legal error.
Observing that the record does not demonstrate that the officer had a reasonable suspicion that the defendant was out past his curfew or drinking underage, the panel held that any extension of the traffic stop to investigate those matters was an unlawful seizure.
Based on the plain text of Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13- 2412(A), the panel rejected the government’s contention that the defendant’s refusal to identify himself provided reasonable suspicion of the additional offenses of failure to provide identification and failure to comply with law enforcement orders.
Because the police could not lawfully order the defendant to identify himself, the panel explained that the defendant’s repeated refusal to do so did not constitute a failure to comply with an officer’s lawful order under Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-622(A). The panel concluded that there was therefore no justification for the extension of the detention to allow the officers to press the defendant further for his identity.
The panel held that the bullets the defendant was convicted of possessing, only because he was ordered from the car as part of the unlawfully extended seizure and subsequently consented to a search of his pockets, cannot be introduced at trial. The panel wrote that because the stop was no longer lawful by the time the officers ordered the defendant to leave the car, the validity or not of the exit order does not matter.
The panel addressed in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition the defendant’s challenge to the district court’s denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment.
Full case here: UNITED STATES V. LANDEROS, http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2019/01/11/17-10217.pdf
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
Do you want to buy our Lawstache merchandise? Maybe a t-shirt?
Want to mail me something (usually mustache-related)? Send it to 185 West F Street, Suite 100-D, San Diego, CA 92101
Want to learn about our recent victories?
Are you are a Russian speaker? Вы говорите по-русски?
Based in San Diego, CA
Licensed: California, Nevada, and Federal Courts
The San Diego-based business litigation and criminal defense attorneys at LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM are experienced and dedicated professionals singularly focused on one goal: achieving the best results for our clients. Through our hard work and expertise, we guarantee all of our clients that we will diligently protect their rights and zealously pursue justice. Our clients deserve nothing less!