Skip to content
Name: United States v. Collins
Case #: 04-50065
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/28/2005

The appellate court affirmed the district court’s order suppressing evidence in the case of a defendant charged with conspiracy to retain and deliver, and retaining and delivering, stolen United States treasury checks. The panel held that the district court properly concluded that the defendant’s arrest violated the Fourth Amendment because federal agents lacked probable cause to believe that the defendant was committing, or had committed, a criminal offense, where the facts showed that the only thing the agents knew about the defendant was that he had shown up in a public parking lot, had talked briefly to the driver of another car in that lot, and had gone into a fast-food restaurant and purchased a drink. The court observed that entirely missing from the record was any connection between the defendant and a person independently suspected of criminal activity, other than that the defendant was close to the wrong people at the wrong time. Distinguishing Maryland v. Pringle (2003) 540 U.S. 366, the court explained that unlike the interior of a private vehicle, the public parking lot setting does not support the inference that everyone in a segment of the parking lot probably knows each other (and that they are participating in their illegal activities).