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Hensley v. Gassman — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee), Sept. 11, 2012

Question: Can officers’ participation in the repossession of a car lead to a Fourth Amendment violation?

Quick Answer: Yes, if there is no apparent legal basis for a repossession, officers violate the Fourth Amendment by taking an active role in a private repossession.


U.S. v. Navedo — Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania), Sept. 12, 2012

Question: Do officers have reasonable suspicion to stop and question a suspect if they observe him looking at a gun followed by the suspect’s flight away from the officers, and does that justify the officers’ warrantless entry into his apartment, where the firearms were seized?

Quick Answer: No, without some other indicia of wrongdoing, mere unprovoked flight from the approaching officers does not support probable cause to arrest.


United States v. Snard — Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania), Sept. 21, 2012

Question: Was a search under box springs and a mattress permissible under the protective sweep doctrine?

Quick Answer: Yes, a protective sweep can extend to looking under a mattress because it is a common hiding place.


United States v. Griffin — Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Alabama, Florida and Georgia), Oct. 2, 2012

Question: Does a valid stop and frisk become unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment when an officer asks some brief questions that are unrelated to the reason for the stop and the purpose of the frisk?

Quick Answer: No, as long as the unrelated questions are brief and do not prolong the stop.


State v. Wade — Ninth District Court of Appeals (Lorain, Medina, Summit, Wayne), Sept. 19, 2012

Question: If no occupant of a car has access to the vehicle, are officers still able to rely on concerns relating to safety and destruction of evidence to conduct a limited search?

Quick Answer: If the occupants will be allowed to return to the vehicle, a limited search is a reasonable protective measure because the occupants could regain immediate control of a weapon once back in the car.


State v. Wilcox — Fifth District Court of Appeals, Sept. 25, 2012

Question: Does an illegal seizure take place if peace officers instruct a suspect to put her purse on the hood of the vehicle, and does an illegal search take place when they look inside it after a K-9 unit alerts to it?

Quick Answer: No, instructing a suspect to put a purse on the hood of a car is not a search. And when an officer is reasonably diligent in conducting a stop, an alert by a K-9 is not unconstitutional.


State v. Whitten — Second District Court of Appeals (Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery), Sept. 28, 2012

Question: May an officer remove a package from a suspect’s clothing based on an assumption that it contains contraband?  

Quick Answer: Yes, if it appears to be a weapon or if the suspect admits that it is contraband.


State v. Luong — Twelfth District Court of Appeals (Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble), Oct. 1, 2012

Question: Did firefighters and peace officers have an objective, reasonable belief that an immediate entry into the residence was necessary in order to protect any persons or property or to prevent the destruction of evidence inside?

Quick Answer: Yes, if exigent circumstances exist, such as a need to protect life and property and to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence, peace officers may enter a suspect’s residence without a search warrant.



State v. Rogers — Second District Court of Appeals (Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery), Oct. 12, 2012

Question: Did officers illegally expand the scope and duration of an original traffic stop when they asked a suspect to talk with them without first advising him that he could refuse.

Quick Answer: Yes, once the reason for the traffic stop ended, officers detained the suspect illegally, thereby tainting his ability to consent.


Knowing How to Investigate Common Scams May Reveal Actual Crimes

With the holidays approaching, ‘tis the season for shopping, celebrating, and . . . scamming? Unfortunately, some consumers will fall victim to scammers at this time of year. However, some scams are actually thefts, so it’s important for law enforcement to investigate them as potential crimes.