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Name: People v. Khron
Case #: G036762
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/28/2007

In the context of the 4th Amendment, a “public place” is a location readily accessible to all those who wish to go there (People v. Perez (1976) 64 Cal.App.3d 297, 301) and one which a member of the public can access without challenge (People v. Olson (1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 592, 598). Here appellant, carrying a garbage bag and a can of beer, was descending an external flight of stairs in a gated apartment complex when a police officer directed him to come to him. The officer had gained access to the complex with an emergency access key. When appellant complied, the officer asked if he had drugs and appellant admitted he did. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s denial of the suppression motion, rejecting the prosecution theory that the detention was justified because the officer was merely detaining appellant to investigate a possible violation of an ordinance prohibiting consumption of alcohol in a public place, because this was not a public place.