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Whether Defendant Was Detained When Officer Shone a Spotlight on Defendant’s Parked Car and Ordered Passenger to Stay Near Car

Case Name: People v. Tacardon (2022) 14 Cal.5th 235
Case #: S264219
Last Updated: December 29, 2022

Was defendant unlawfully detained when the arresting officer used his spotlight to illuminate defendant’s parked car and then directed a passenger who exited the car to remain outside and stay on the sidewalk near the car?


A sheriff’s deputy patrolling after dark saw three people sitting in a legally parked car in a residential neighborhood, smoking something. He pulled up behind the car, illuminated it with a spotlight, and approached on foot. We granted review to examine the significance of the deputy’s use of a spotlight in this circumstance. We conclude that shining a spotlight for illumination does not ipso facto constitute a detention under the Fourth Amendment. Rather, the proper inquiry requires consideration of the totality of the circumstances, including the use of a spotlight.

This case was decided on 12/29/2022. Justice Groban filed a concurring and dissenting opinion. Justice Liu filed a dissenting opinion.

Review on this issue was also granted with briefing deferred in:

  • People v. Flores (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 978, review granted 4/21/2021 (S267522/B305359)
  • People v. Kasrawi (2021) 65 Cal.App.5th 751, review granted 9/1/2021 (S270040/D077139)
  • People v. Montanez (F082023) [nonpub. opn.], review granted 6/29/2022 (S274306)
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