1. Did Officer Smith have reasonable suspicion to make the initial stop of this vehicle? Reasonable suspicion is based on the understanding of circumstances of a person experienced in the field of criminal law. Another way of putting it is a criminal justice professional acting on more than a hunch but less than probable cause [ (quiz law) ]. Based on the definition of reasonable suspicion, Officer Smith did in fact have reasonable suspicion to make an initial stop of the vehicle because not only was a tail light broken which is a traffic law violation but the vehicle matched a general description of the vehicle that was suspected in the roadside killing of another Police Officer.
2. Was the “pat-down” of the driver legal? A “Pat Down” is a quick search of a person’s being in order to determine if any weapons are present. A “Pat Down” is necessary to ensure the safety of the law enforcement agent and other civilians [ (Kiefer, 2009) ]. According to the case Arizona V. Johnson Officer Smith’s pat down of the driver was legal. Since the description of the car was the same as car used to kill other officer, Officer Smith had reason to fear for his life, therefore had the right to check or weapons.
3. Did exigent circumstances exist for Officer Smith to give chase to this vehicle? Exigent Circumstances means emergency conditions. Circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that any relevant prompt action was necessary to prevent physical harm to the officers or civilians, the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of a suspect, or some other consequence improperly frustrating legitimate law enforcement efforts (The lectric law library, 1995-2011). According to cased United States V. McConney (United States V. McConney, 1984), Exigent circumstances did exist for Officer Smith to Chase the vehicle in question because the driver obstructed justice by not providing the officer with her license and registration. Also the driver unusual action of speeding off before the stop came to an end also gave Officer Smith reason to give chase to the vehicle.
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4. Was the gun in “plain view” and legally obtained? “Plain View” authorizes seizure of illegal evidence visible to a police officer if the officer’s access to the object has a Fourth Amendment justification [ (Cliff Roberson, 2007) ]. According to the plain view doctrine the gun was in plain view because he could see if without physically moving anything or opening anything, but not legally obtained because she was not able to consent to the search of her car due to her being injured in an accident stemming from the chase.
5. Will the marijuana baggie be admissible evidence? The marijuana will not be admissible in court unless the driver is found to be under the influence of the substance at time of accident because the previous exigent circumstances and reasonable suspicion would be deemed irrelevant due to the fact that the original reason for the stop which was the broken tail light was not in fact broken making the stop improper. Without the stop the officer would not have recognized that the vehicle fitted the description of suspect vehicle and Officer Smith would not have patted down the driver or asked for the driver’s license or registration, which in turn the driver would not have sped off inviting a chase from Officer Smith. Basically, with the reasonable suspicion and exigent circumstances the evidence found is irrelevant.
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