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Name: People v. Davidson
Case #: B244607
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 11/26/2013

During an investigatory stop, police officer was not required to give defendant Miranda warnings before asking him whether a stolen motorcycle in his possession belonged to him. Defendant appealed his conviction for unlawfully taking a vehicle (Veh. Code, § 10851, subd. (a)) and possessing a drug pipe (Health & Saf. Code, § 11364.1, subd. (a)). He challenged the trial court’s admission of his prearrest statement, made without prior Miranda warnings. Held: Affirmed. After receiving a call about a man pushing a stolen motorcycle, a police officer stopped appellant, who tried to hide a motorcycle as the officer approached. Officer Coulter noticed ignition wires hanging from the motorcycle, saw appellant had a screwdriver, and found his behavior odd. Coulter handcuffed defendant, told him he was investigating a stolen motorcycle, and asked if the bike was his. Defendant claimed to have found the motorcycle. It was not error to admit this exchange. Police are allowed to ask questions of persons suspected of crimes who have been temporarily detained for investigation. The officer’s question was asked to dispel or confirm defendant’s involvement in a crime. Vehicle Code section 2804 allows an officer to ask for vehicle registration. Handcuffing a suspect during an initial investigation does not automatically render an interrogation custodial for Miranda purposes. Here, defendant was handcuffed for officer safety, as he possessed a screwdriver and was acting “hanky.” The detention lasted two minutes and was conducted by a single officer on a public sidewalk. Based on the totality of the circumstances, the interrogation was not custodial.

The trial court did not err by admitting other crimes evidence. Over defense objection, the trial court admitted prosecution evidence of a prior car theft in which defendant took a car from the driveway of the owner’s home, using a screwdriver. This evidence was not more prejudicial than probative and the jury was correctly instructed not to use it to show propensity.