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Name: United States v. Miguel
Case #: 03-10218
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/27/2004

Miguel and her uncle were pulled over on a hot summer day by sheriff’s deputies who may have mistakenly believed that the vehicle’s registration had expired. Deputies found a group of five Mexican children and young adults in the car, being smuggled into the country. One of the children was unconscious. Appellants pleaded guilty to transporting illegal aliens and placing in jeopardy the lives of illegal aliens. On appeal, appellants challenged the legality of the stop. The appellate court here affirmed. If the deputies were mistaken about the vehicle’s registration, their mistake was one of fact due to their reasonable reliance on a computer database. A mere mistake of fact will not render a stop illegal if the objective facts known to the officer give rise to a reasonable suspicion. The deputies had reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle based on their factually erroneous but reasonable and good faith belief.