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  • Thread Got Me Thinking..

    Hi all!

    I come and browse the board every week or so, look through old threads that I haven't read yet, etc. Well, today I was reading through one in this section that got me thinking, and I couldn't come up with an answer myself that satisfied me.

    Scenario:
    Officer runs a cars tags, finds out they're expired and proceeds to pull the car over. On the way up to the vehicle, the officers notices that he ran the tags incorrectly, so decides he is going to walk up to the window, explain why he pulled the person over and the error he made, and let them go since he no longer had RS. As the officer approaches the window, he notices something (not as severe as a gun, but not as small as a front seat passenger without a seat belt -- dope?) in plain view. Now, since he technically didn't have RS to stop the car, what can be done, in terms of writing a citation or arrest, after the fact?

    The thoughts I was having were along the lines of since the officer no longer has RS, anything he finds could be thrown out/suppressed in court thus making the charges null. But, on the other side of this, if he had messed up a letter or number on the tag and it still happened to come back to the SAME make/model by some crazy happening... did his RS go out the window when he realized his error on his way to the window? I would still think yes and be back on the evidence being thrown out/suppressed in court.

    I guess I'm just curious on how close my thoughts were (if close at all). Even after reading back through it I am sure there are grammatical errors within, just got out of work and am on my way to bed as we speak! Sorry for those. Thank you all in advance for your responses!

    -Dtown
    On this job, the only thing that's black and white is the car. -Peter Malloy

    Always do what's right, and if you do what's right, you won't have a problem. -My Father

    R.I.P. Dad, 3/11/56 - 5/15/14

  • #2
    Is the officer doing interdiction? Running tags at random while may be legal in your area, it may not go over so well in others.

    If there was no pc for the stop, any citation or plain view evidence would be dismissed or thrown out in court.

    getting any numerical or letter wrong would come back to a different make model. The only way i could see having the right number but a wrong return is if the officer ran the plate out of a different state which happens.
    sigpic

    "When a police officer is killed, it's not an agency that loses an officer, it's an entire nation." -Chris Cosgriff, ODMP Founder

    http://www.odmp.org/

    Comment


    • #3
      Because this is just a question that popped into my head after reading through a different thread, everything therein is hypothetical so the officer can be doing whatever you believe. In my mind, the officer was not doing any type of interdiction.

      Also, to answer your question, yes running tags at random in my area is a normal occurrence. Traffic stops are usually not made just by what comes back from the tag, there is something else to go with it that will "strengthen" the stop (ie. license plate light out, tail light, failure to signal, just something small).

      Thank you wutzcrack3n, you answered my question. It was as I had thought, but I wasn't sure. I feel like it would be hard for an officer to just ignore whatever was "found" within the vehicle.

      Again, thanks for the response and answer.

      -Dtown
      On this job, the only thing that's black and white is the car. -Peter Malloy

      Always do what's right, and if you do what's right, you won't have a problem. -My Father

      R.I.P. Dad, 3/11/56 - 5/15/14

      Comment


      • #4
        You did state that the stop came back from running the tag. Expired tags.

        Me personally, if im looking to stop a car i will find a good pc that will stick in court.
        sigpic

        "When a police officer is killed, it's not an agency that loses an officer, it's an entire nation." -Chris Cosgriff, ODMP Founder

        http://www.odmp.org/

        Comment


        • #5
          Look at Heien v. North Carolina. Though not exactly the same the case is similar to what you describe. Essentially an officer in North Carolina stopped a car because one of its brake lights did not work. However NC law states that a vehicle need only be equipped with one brake light. After making the stop the officer found a bag of cocaine and arrested the driver. Heien appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court saying that since he was not in violation of NC law the officer had no reason to stop him and thus the evidence obtained from that stop should be excluded. The Supreme Court rejected Heien's argument. Saying that because the officer's mistake of law was reasonable, there was reasonable suspicion justifying the stop under the Fourth Amendment.

          Here is the the opinion of the court delivered by Chief Justice Roberts:
          http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions...3-604_ec8f.pdf
          Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum
          To err is human, but to persist is diabolical

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          • #6
            I once stopped a driver. I did not see the temporary tag that he had positioned in his rear window (it was night and thats legal here)
            I told him that I didn't see the tag, apologized for any inconvenience and got him on his way as soon as possible.
            Judge me by the enemies I have made----Unknown

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            • #7

              Long ago, I had a police car (from another county) pull out behind me and follow me into a parking lot (in front of a business to which I was going) - but he did not activate his blue lights. As I sat in my car waiting to see what he was going to do, he stopped, got out and walked over to my car. He was looking at my windshield, stepped back and apologized.

              My county's tax decal (which was current) strongly resembled the color & design of the LAST YEAR'S DECAL of the officer's jurisdiction. He told me that he could not tell until he got up close, explained that it was his mistake and wished me a good day. He never asked for my license, registration or anything else.

              I was not up to anything, of course, but I guess that could have potentially been a "fruit of the poisonous tree" case if he proceeded further and found something else.

              The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

              The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

              ------------------------------------------------

              "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by wutzcrack3n View Post
                If there was no pc for the stop, any citation or plain view evidence would be dismissed or thrown out in court.
                You do not need PC for a motor vehicle stop or other temporary detention. All you need is reasonable, articulable suspicion.

                Originally posted by Speedbird543 View Post
                Look at Heien v. North Carolina. {snipped} Saying that because the officer's mistake of law was reasonable, there was reasonable suspicion justifying the stop under the Fourth Amendment.
                Exactly.
                "It is apparent that in order to satisfy the "reasonableness" requirement of the Fourth Amendment, what is generally demanded of the many factual determinations that must regularly be made by agents of the government—whether the magistrate issuing a warrant, the police officer executing a warrant, or the police officer conducting a search or seizure under one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement—is not that they always be correct, but that they always be reasonable." Justice Scalia, writing for the majority in Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177, (1990)

                Contrary to the complaints of some bloggers who say that Heien "gives officers license to make up laws," Justice Scalia quoted this from Brinegar v. United States (1949): "Because many situations which confront officers in the course of executing their duties are more or less ambiguous, room must be allowed for some mistakes on their part. But the mistakes must be those of reasonable men, acting on facts leading sensibly to their conclusions of probability."
                --
                Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

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                • #9
                  ^^^^^^ this
                  "I don't go on "I'maworthlesscumdumpster.com" and post negative **** about cum dumpsters."
                  The Tick

                  "Are you referring to the secret headquarters of a fictional crime fighter or penal complex slang for a-$$hole, anus or rectum?"
                  sanitizer

                  "and we all know you are a poser and a p*ssy.... "
                  Bearcat357 to Dinner Portion/buck8/long relief

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The second you realize you made an error, if you do not have any other RS to stop the vehicle, your stop is over. If you happened to see something in plain view prior to your realization of your mistake, you have a decision to make.

                    Decision 1:
                    You can take it and move forward with your investigation from there. You would have to articulate your error in your report and how that resulted in your mistake RS, which you maintained prior to your observation of the contraband. I would print out the DMV report for the plate you did run and explain where the error was. For instance, if you ran a plate of 1CIR111, but the plate was actually 1CTR111, I would take a digital photograph of the configuration of the plate. If your view of the bottom part of the I was blocked, making it look like a T (as is the case with many license plates in California) your mistake may seem more reasonable and you may stand a chance in court. However, most likely, you are going to have to write a report that makes you look like an idiot and have to defend yourself on the stand and look like an idiot in front of a room full of people, or even more likely the DA will never charge the case and drop the charges.

                    Decision 2:
                    Tell the driver you incorrectly read his license plate, apologize for the inconvenience and leave, never mentioning the contraband you did NOT see.....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Honest mistakes happen and can be explained. In my state, running a plate is perfectly legal and I've had a couple of trials that resulted from them where there wasn't any real challenge to the legality of it.
                      In your scenario, I'd personally seize the drugs and long form the charges instead of making a custodial arrest. I'd just articulate in my report that I ran the plate wrong, whether I though a q was a 0 or whatever lead to the mistake. When I approached the driver to explain the mistake, the idiot had left his drugs in plain view. That's his own fault.
                      You'll get some prosecutor's who will be willing to prosecute it and some who won't.

                      Comment

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