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Name: U.S. v. Washington
Case #: 06-30386
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/19/2007

An encounter that is initially consensual may evolve into a situation where a reasonable person would not feel free to leave if he chose to do so, so as to implicate the Fourth Amendment. A police encounter is a seizure so as to implicate the Fourth Amendment, if a reasonable person would have believed he was not free to leave. (Florida v. Bostick (1991) 501 U.S. 429; U.S. v. Mendenhall (1980) 46 U.S. 544.) In this case, Mr. Washington was sitting in his parked car late at night in Portland when he was approached by a police officer who asked him what he was doing and if he minded if the officer searched him. The officer conceded that he suspected Washington of no crime. Washington agreed to be searched and exited the car. The officer directed him back to the patrol car and searched him. He then asked him if he could search Washington’s vehicle and Washington consented. In the interim a second officer arrived. The search produced a firearm. The court concluded that although the initial encounter was consensual, the manner in which the officer searched Washington converted the encounter into a seizure from which a reasonable person would not feel free to leave and that Washington’s subsequent consent to search the car was not voluntary.