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Reasonable Suspicion Archives

Reasonable Suspicion Upheld Despite Working Headlight

A police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is about to occur before initiating a warrantless stop or detention of a vehicle to investigate. But the suspicion must only be reasonable at the time of the seizure. It does not have to be proven ultimately correct. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Mullican, M2014-01122-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 3-4-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling validating a stop of a vehicle for having one headlight out when it was supposed to be on, despite the fact that both headlights on the seized vehicle later appeared to be working when the vehicle was examined in an impound lot.

Reasonable Suspicion Upheld Despite Working Headlight

A police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is about to occur before initiating a warrantless stop or detention of a vehicle to investigate. But the suspicion must only be reasonable at the time of the seizure. It does not have to be proven ultimately correct. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Mullican, M2014-01122-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 3-4-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling validating a stop of a vehicle for having one headlight out when it was supposed to be on, despite the fact that both headlights on the seized vehicle later appeared to be working when the vehicle was examined in an impound lot.

Database Error Still Reasonable Suspicion for a Stop

Authorities must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before they can lawfully seize a person to conduct an investigation. Stopping a motor vehicle by a show of authority is a seizure. But though the suspicion must be reasonable, that does not necessarily mean it must be accurate. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Meadows, M2013-01650-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 2-10-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals found that a vehicle stop which was based on incorrect information in a database was still reasonable, as it was reasonable for the police officer to rely on that information.

Database Error Still Reasonable Suspicion for a Stop

Authorities must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before they can lawfully seize a person to conduct an investigation. Stopping a motor vehicle by a show of authority is a seizure. But though the suspicion must be reasonable, that does not necessarily mean it must be accurate. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Meadows, M2013-01650-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 2-10-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals found that a vehicle stop which was based on incorrect information in a database was still reasonable, as it was reasonable for the police officer to rely on that information.

Smell of Alcohol is Reasonable Suspicion for DUI Investigation

Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is generally necessary for a police officer to use authority to compel a warrantless stop or detention of an individual. In the recent Tennessee case of State v Wessels, M2012-01969-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 9-20-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that a police officer who claimed to smell alcohol on a driver had reasonable suspicion to detain the driver after a traffic stop to conduct a DUI investigation.

Smell of Alcohol is Reasonable Suspicion for DUI Investigation

Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is generally necessary for a police officer to use authority to compel a warrantless stop or detention of an individual. In the recent Tennessee case of State v Wessels, M2012-01969-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 9-20-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that a police officer who claimed to smell alcohol on a driver had reasonable suspicion to detain the driver after a traffic stop to conduct a DUI investigation.

Smell of Alcohol is Reasonable Suspicion for DUI Investigation

Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is generally necessary for a police officer to use authority to compel a warrantless stop or detention of an individual. In the recent Tennessee case of State v Wessels, M2012-01969-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 9-20-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that a police officer who claimed to smell alcohol on a driver had reasonable suspicion to detain the driver after a traffic stop to conduct a DUI investigation.

Incorrect License Tag Creates Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion that a person may have committed a crime or be in the process of committing a crime is necessary before a person can be detained (nonconsensually) by law enforcement for even a brief investigation. Reasonable suspicion must be based upon articulable facts. A detention or seizure, which occurs unlawfully, may invalidate evidence obtained as a result of that illegal seizure. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Seay, M2011-02769-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-16-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals noted that having the wrong license tag on a vehicle does create reasonable suspicion for further investigation.

Incorrect License Tag Creates Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion that a person may have committed a crime or be in the process of committing a crime is necessary before a person can be detained (nonconsensually) by law enforcement for even a brief investigation. Reasonable suspicion must be based upon articulable facts. A detention or seizure, which occurs unlawfully, may invalidate evidence obtained as a result of that illegal seizure. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Seay, M2011-02769-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-16-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals noted that having the wrong license tag on a vehicle does create reasonable suspicion for further investigation.

Incorrect License Tag Creates Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion that a person may have committed a crime or be in the process of committing a crime is necessary before a person can be detained (nonconsensually) by law enforcement for even a brief investigation. Reasonable suspicion must be based upon articulable facts. A detention or seizure, which occurs unlawfully, may invalidate evidence obtained as a result of that illegal seizure. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Seay, M2011-02769-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-16-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals noted that having the wrong license tag on a vehicle does create reasonable suspicion for further investigation.

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