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Illegal Investigatory Stop: Effect of Suspect's Voluntary Admission - When Does Good Faith Defense Apply?

NCJ Number
Crime to Court Police Officer's Handbook Dated: (July 1994) Pages: complete issue
J C Coleman
Date Published
21 pages
This booklet provides the appellate court decision and legal commentary on United States v. O'Neal (1994), which involved legal issues pursuant to the seizure of a suspect's luggage; information is also provided on the symptoms of a grand mal epileptic seizure.
The relevant facts of the case are that O'Neal and his brother arrived in Minneapolis on a bus from Chicago. Police officers watching the bus depot for possible drug couriers approached the men and questioned them. During the interrogation, one of the officers seized O'Neal's carry-on bag to submit it to a canine sniff test. As that officer left with the bag, another officer asked O'Neal whether the bag contained drugs; O'Neal admitted that it did. After the dog alerted to the bag, O'Neal was arrested, read his Miranda rights, and taken to the police station. The police obtained a search warrant for the bag, and upon execution of the warrant found the cocaine. Under the court's decision, an investigatory stop of a citizen may not be based solely on a "drug profile." Other facts to support reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed must also be present. Without at least a reasonable suspicion, an officer may not forcibly detain a person or seize his/her luggage. A magistrate can find probable cause for the issuance of a valid warrant even after an illegal investigatory stop, if there are sufficient facts not based upon information acquired as a result of the illegal seizure. The voluntary statement from the suspect that his luggage contained drugs was a valid basis for the issuance of the search warrant. There are cases in which a seizure or search pursuant to an invalid warrant may be held to be lawful. A test on the information is provided.