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Name: People v. Hester
Case #: F034897
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/10/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 9/22/04

Where an automotive stop is not supported by reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, the fact that three of the car’s occupants were on searchable probation will not justify the detention if officers were not aware of the search conditions at the time. Following transfer from the California Supreme Court with directions to reconsider the case in light of Maryland v. Pringle (2003) 124 S.Ct. 795 and People v. Sanders (2003) 31 Cal.4th 318, the Court of Appeal found that those two authorities supported the court’s original order reversing the denial of the motion to suppress. The searching officers lacked a particularized and objective basis to suspect that someone in the car was involved in criminal activity. The only information available to the officers at the time was that a drive-by shooting involving certain gangs had taken place earlier that evening, and that one occupant of the searched vehicle had on prior occasions been seen in the company of members of a gang that might have been involved in the shooting. The court held that mere membership in a criminal street gang, without additional facts supporting an inference of criminal activity, does not support a detention. Further, the stop of a lawfully operated vehicle cannot be justified by a passenger’s probation status if the officers stopping the vehicle have no knowledge of that probation status at the time. Justice Buckley dissented, finding that the officers had reasonable suspicion that justified detaining the vehicle and its occupants.