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  1. #1
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    Default Probable Cause, Traffic Stop Resulting in Search

    My question involves police conduct in the State of: California. A friend of mine was visiting his brother in California. On his way home He was driving on the highway and was pulled over by California Hwy Patrol for allegedly following to close. (A witness said that there wasnt even any traffic and didnt see how that was possible.)
    The driver had a valid drivers license, insurance and proper documentation for the vehicle. The officier initially, said that he was going to just give the driver a warning but was now claiming that the passenger and the driver stories, after being questioned, did not give identical explainations of why, when, who or what they were doing, that he (the officier) then, was requesting, of the driver, consent to search the vehicle. The driver and the passenger had told the officier the same story with only minor differences in details.
    MY QUESTION IS: Does that meet the requirement legally, for probable cause to search the vehicle?? Would that be enough to gain a warrent from a judge?? Can anyone tell me where I would go to research California State Law regarding search and siezure, proper cause and procedures for a routine traffic stop by California State Patrol.

    The officier did not recover anything from the car....but if the officier had recovered anything, would the probable cause for the stop alone been proper, assuming he could prove that there was no traffic, and the following search had it resulted in anything illegal and an arrest taken place and charges filed. Would there be good defensable case??

    My friend has no criminal history. Is well like in his community. He is a good person and this experience has been very disturbing to him.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated......

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Probable Cause, Traffic Stop Resulting in Search

    Minor differences to you may be much larger to the officer at the scene.

    Since nothing resulted from the search and no charges brought from anything recovered, what would you like to happen next?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Probable Cause, Traffic Stop Resulting in Search

    Did the officer get consent? If so, the search was legal.

    There is no reason that an officer can't ask to search a vehicle without probable cause. If you want to see if the officer believes that he has probable cause, or will actually seek a warrant, say "no" to the search request.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Probable Cause, Traffic Stop Resulting in Search

    Quote Quoting aaron
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    Did the officer get consent? If so, the search was legal.

    There is no reason that an officer can't ask to search a vehicle without probable cause. If you want to see if the officer believes that he has probable cause, or will actually seek a warrant, say "no" to the search request.
    I guess what I am asking is what is the official procedure for a traffic stop. Why would an officier be justified in speaking to a driver or a passenger when the stop was for something as minor as following to close

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Probable Cause, Traffic Stop Resulting in Search

    Quote Quoting gotogirl
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    I guess what I am asking is what is the official procedure for a traffic stop. Why would an officier be justified in speaking to a driver or a passenger when the stop was for something as minor as following to close
    That is not minor.

    It is a traffic infraction and drivers committing the act may be pulled over and ticketed for it.

    You would be surprised at the number of terrible accidents caused by following too closely... especially on the highway.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Probable Cause, Traffic Stop Resulting in Search

    Quote Quoting gotogirl
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    I guess what I am asking is what is the official procedure for a traffic stop. Why would an officier be justified in speaking to a driver or a passenger when the stop was for something as minor as following to close

    Delaware v. Prouse:


    ....Stopping an automobile and detaining its occupants constitute a "seizure" within the meaning of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, even though the purpose of the stop is limited and the resulting detention quite brief...

    If not defined in law as justification to stop, the stop must only be a "reasonable" one.

    Violation of a traffic offense is absolute probable cause to conduct an investigatory stop. We here are to assume it was not fabricated, of course.

    State v. Robinette: Ohio SC


    ...The transition between detention and a consensual exchange can be so seamless that the untrained eye may not notice that it has occurred. The undetectability of that transition may be used by police officers to coerce citizens into answering questions that they need not answer, or to allow a search of a vehicle that they are not legally obligated to allow...

    What can start out as ordinary causal talk, such as "where you guys heading on this rainy day", can turn into an actual unnoticed detention.

    I doubt, although I can't cite any, that CA constitutional law forbids such that evolves into what is viewed as authoritative questioning.

    As long as the detainee continues to answer the questions, there is a very fine line on whether the initial purpose of the stop has ended and further detention is technically unlawful.

    A driver is always free to say, "If the initial purpose of the seizure has ended, I want to leave, as I have nothing more to say".

    IF the consent was voluntary, that is, your right to refuse was "knowingly waived", you have no recourse.

    They do not need a warrant to search if they have probable cause to do so, which differing stories is NOT "in and of itself" constitutional authority to search, no!

  7. #7
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Probable Cause, Traffic Stop Resulting in Search

    Quote Quoting gotogirl
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    Does that meet the requirement legally, for probable cause to search the vehicle??
    Absent a consent or something more to articulate probable cause, no.

    Would that be enough to gain a warrent from a judge??
    Non.

    Can anyone tell me where I would go to research California State Law regarding search and siezure, proper cause and procedures for a routine traffic stop by California State Patrol.
    You can do research on the internet or, best, go to a law library and ask for assistance.
    I guess what I am asking is what is the official procedure for a traffic stop. Why would an officier be justified in speaking to a driver or a passenger when the stop was for something as minor as following to close
    The officer can TALK to whomever he pleases. The passengers - and even the driver - do not have to talk to the officer, however. The only obligation placed upon the driver is to provide his license, registration and insurance - and affirm current address and info.

    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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