Criminal Defense - Santa Rosa - People vs. Parrott

The Santa Rosa California criminal defense attorneys at Adams Fietz have reviewed the case of People v. Parrott, decided April 4, 2017. The Court of Appeals in this case examined whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that individuals are entitled “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” (U.S. Const., 4th Amend.) Although this amendment restricts only the federal Government, the “right of privacy” also extends to protect against state action through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Mapp v. Ohio (1961) 367 U.S. 643, 655.)

Within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, an individual is detained when police officers restrain his or her liberty by means of physical force or show of authority. (California v. Hodari D. (1991) 499 U.S. 621, 626; United States v. Mendenhall (1980) 446 U.S. 544, 554.) The test for whether a police officer’s conduct amounts to a detention is whether the officer’s conduct would indicate to a reasonable person that he or she is not free to leave, or otherwise to terminate the encounter. (United States v. Mendenhall, at p. 554.)

A consensual encounter between a police officer and an individual does not amount to a detainment under the Fourth Amendment. “It is well established that law enforcement officers may approach someone on the street or in another public place and converse if the person is willing to do so” without having any “articulable suspicion of criminal activity. [Citations.]” (People v. Rivera (2007) 41 Cal.4th 304, 309.) For example, “ ‘law enforcement officers do not violate the Fourth Amendment by merely approaching an individual on the street or in another public place, by asking him if he is willing to answer some questions, by putting questions to him if the person is willing to listen, or by offering in evidence in a criminal prosecution his voluntary answers to such questions.’ ” (Florida v. Bostick (1991) 501 U.S. 429, 434, quoting Florida v. Royer (1983) 460 U.S. 491, 497.) There is no Fourth Amendment violation as long as a reasonable person, under the circumstances, would feel free to leave, or to end the encounter. (People v. Rivera, at p. 309.)

In determining whether a reasonable person would have believed he or she was free to leave or end the encounter, a court must take into account the totality of the circumstances from the perspective of a reasonable person in the defendant’s position. (In re Manuel G. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 805, 821.) In doing so, the court “assesses the coercive effect of police conduct as a whole, rather than emphasizing particular details of that conduct in isolation. [Citation.]” (Ibid.) Relevant factors include “the presence of several officers, an officer’s display of a weapon, some physical touching of the person, or the use of language or of a tone of voice indicating that compliance with the officer’s request might be compelled. [Citations.]” (Ibid.)

Within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, a police officer may temporarily detain an individual if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” to believe the individual is involved in criminal activity. (In re Tony C. (1978) 21 Cal.3d 888, 894.) Reasonable suspicion is defined as “ a particularized and objective basis’ ” for suspecting a person is involved in criminal activity. (Ornelas v. United States (1996) 517 U.S. 690, 696.) In determining the existence of reasonable suspicion, officers may “draw on their own experience and specialized training to make inferences from and deductions about the cumulative information available to them that ‘might well elude an untrained person.’ [Citation.]” (United States v. Arvizu (2002) 534 U.S. 266, 273.)

If you have been arrested for a crime in Sonoma County and believe that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, call the criminal defense attorneys at the Santa Rosa CA law office of Adams Fietz.