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Name: People v. Bates
Case #: H037910
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/12/2013

A vehicle detention that violates the Fourth Amendment is not made lawful simply because police learn that one of the passenger’s is a probationer with a search condition after the fact. While investigating a report of a stolen cell phone, Deputy Sheriff Gidding learned the following information: (1) the reported theft occurred two hours earlier; (2) the suspect was a young black male wearing blue; (3) the suspect may have been Marcus Bates, a probationer living at a nearby apartment complex; (4) the Bates’ family had a gold van, which the deputy had been instructed to watch for; and (5) there was a report of someone matching the suspect’s description walking away from Bates’ apartment complex toward a mobile home park. Deputy Gidding went to the mobile home park and stopped a tan car driving toward the park’s exit. He later testified that his sole reason for the stop was that “there were people in the car.” The deputy found Bates in the car and located evidence that appellant moved to suppress. The trial court denied the motion. Held: Reversed. Considering the facts in the totality of the circumstances, Deputy Gidding had no reasonably articulable suspicion that either the occupants of the tan car or the car itself may have been involved in criminal activities. The detention was based solely on generalized suspicion and was unlawful as a result. Appellant’s probation search condition did not make the stop reasonable because Gidding did not know appellant was in the vehicle when he stopped it. The probation condition also was not an intervening circumstance that sufficiently attenuated the Fourth Amendment violation. Disagreeing with People v. Durant (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 57, the court found that discovery of a probation condition after the fact will not necessarily sanitize the unlawful detention. This is particularly true where the detaining officer, without knowledge of the condition, unlawfully seizes a defendant in the hopes that something might turn up.