United States v. Baker

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 01-30-2023
  • Case #: 20-50314
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sanchez, C.J. for the Court; Forrest, C.J.; & Freudenthal, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Where a “protective search goes beyond what is necessary to determine if the suspect is armed, it is no longer valid under Terry and its fruits will be suppressed.” Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 373 (1993) (internal citation omitted).

Defendant was charged and convicted of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and brandishing a firearm. Police seized the handgun from Defendant’s vehicle after removing a car key from Defendant’s belt loop and searched an adjacent lot for a matching vehicle during a Terry stop for suspected trespass. Defendant contended the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress evidence of the handgun, which Defendant argued police obtained by illegal search and seizure.  The State claimed the handgun was admissible as an exception to the exclusionary rule under the attenuation doctrine because Defendant fled from police. Further, the State contended that even if the handgun was admitted in error, it was a harmless error that did not prejudice Defendant’s convictions. Courts evaluate three factors identified in Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590, 603-04 (1975) to ascertain if attenuation is met to permit admission of evidence that is derived from unlawful police action. The Court found the handgun was inadmissible because the unlawful police action was directly linked to its seizure, and Defendant’s flight did not provide an intervening circumstance sufficient to overcome its exclusion.  The Court affirmed Defendant’s robbery and conspiracy convictions as there was substantial evidence to convict beyond a reasonable doubt without the handgun as evidence.  The Court reversed Defendant’s conviction under §924(c) as inclusion of the handgun was essential to proving the State’s case.  AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.

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