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Name: People v. Paul (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 832
Case #: B320488
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 02/14/2024

Evidence discovered during a parole search should have been suppressed where officers discovered defendant’s active parole status after unlawfully detaining him. Officers approached defendant while he was sitting inside a parked car. During his conversation with the officers, defendant told them he was on parole, which led to a parole search of the car where the officers found a gun. After denial of a motion to suppress evidence of the gun, defendant pleaded no contest to possession of a firearm with a prior violent conviction. Defendant appealed. Held: Reversed. Considering the totality of the circumstances, the Court of Appeal concluded that defendant’s initial encounter with the officers was an unlawful detention. First, the officers’ positioning of their bodies blocked defendant from either driving away or departing on foot. Second, two officers approached his car from both sides, and shined their flashlights into the car from close range, right at the car door windows. This was a display of authority that would lead a reasonable person to believe he is not free to leave or otherwise disregard the police and go about his business. Third, the officers approached defendant while he was talking on his phone inside a legally parked vehicle with the windows rolled up. Defendant could not reasonably decline to interact with the officers without suspending his phone call. This would lead an objectively reasonable person to believe that the officers required their attention and that they could not simply depart. The officer’s courteous manner of speaking did not overcome the impression that they intended to detain defendant. Because the officers would not have obtained defendant’s parole status if they had not first detained him unlawfully, evidence of the firearm was not lawfully obtained and should be suppressed.