An investigative hold is not probable cause and could not be used to detain/arrest this defendant. As a result the kilo of cocaine he had in his car is suppressed.
It Begins With a Traffic Stop…
Defendant makes a right hand turn at a light without stopping.
- Officer pulls him over.
- He has no warrants, but
- He has an “investigative hold” for a homicide.
Detained so cop could look into it. Defendant is moved to the back seat of the squad. Notably, the cop escorted Defendant to the backseat of the police car by holding onto his back belt area and told Defendant he was being detained.
Then The Police Look Around
More cops arrive.
Eventually, one of them looks inside the car. Through the window of the back passenger door, an officer sees a black square object wrapped in cellophane and black tape in the back seat.
Clearly, this has to be cocaine!
Without permission, an officer goes into the car and discovers a kilo of cocaine. (I told you it was cocaine.)
A bunch of cash is then found in Defendant's front pocket.
But An Investigative Hold Is Not Probable Cause
What is an investigative hold?
It's just the…
…possibility that other officers might possess facts sufficient to support probable cause to actually arrest defendant.
This reviewing court and the trial court both said that what happened in this case was an arrest. Further, this arrest was based solely on the investigative alert unsupported by probable cause.
The Case Law
There is a case on point. People v. Hyland, 2012 IL App (1st) 110966 supplies the dispositive rule of law in this case.
Also, this was no Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21-22 (1968) situation either. In a true Terry situation, a limited investigation permits a detention based only on a reasonable suspicion that defendant is involved in a crime.
Let's not, of course, forget Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009) (search of a car during a traffic stop requires individual probable cause that there is contraband in the car, a search incident to arrest is now insufficient).
Specifically, reasonable suspicion requires that the officer have specific and articulable facts that the detained individual committed, or is currently, or about to commit a crime.
Here, there was no evidence presented that established a basis for an investigative detention. Plain view didn't help the police either because it required that the officers have a lawful right of access to the object.
This is fancy talk for saying that the plain view doctrine requires that the police be within their rights and acting constitutionally when they make their so-called “plain view.”
Because this defendant was unlawfully arrested for what appeared to be nothing more than a traffic stop the police were not acting constitutionally when they saw the cocaine in plain view.
Really Close Case
As a final note, we see yet another example of how the slightest fact can have a drastic effect in the area of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.
Had the officer found the cocaine in plain view at the time he stopped Defendant for the traffic violation things would be different.
During the initial contact the officer was engaging in a constitutional traffic stop. He was enforcing the turn thing. Thus, had he seen the cocaine at that time (or said he saw the cocaine at that time) plain view would have come to the rescue.