Court Finds Duration of Traffic Stop Reasonable


Case: People v. Wilson

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Judges: Per Curiam – Cavanagh, Meter, and M.J. Kelly

Issues:

Search & seizure; Whether defendant’s extended detention following a traffic stop violated her constitutional rights; People v. Barbarich; People v. Armendarez; People v. Williams; People v. Kazmierczak; Ineffective assistance of counsel; Failure to file a motion to suppress the evidence; People v. Ericksen

Summary:

The court held that because the traffic stop was reasonable and the search was supported by probable cause, there was no merit to the defendant’s argument that the drugs recovered and her subsequent comments to the police were fruit of the poisonous tree. Plain error was not established. Further, her ineffective assistance of counsel claim based on the failure to file a motion to suppress the evidence recovered from the traffic stop failed because counsel was not required to file a futile motion. She was convicted of possession with intent to deliver cocaine (450 grams or more, but less than 1,000 grams), felony-firearm, and possession of marijuana. She argued that her “extended detention following a traffic stop was unreasonable and in violation of her constitutional rights.” She did not challenge the basis for the initial traffic stop but argued that after she gave Michigan State Police Trooper G her gun, “further investigation was not warranted and the extended detention was not justified.” But G determined that the gun was not registered, “which constituted an evolving circumstance that justified his decision to extend the time of the detention.” G was also “justified in asking defendant questions in order to ‘resolve the suspicion raised’ from finding the unregistered gun,” including whether she had “any other firearms, narcotics, or anything illegal” in the car. When G specifically asked “if she had any personal-use marijuana in the car, she said that she did. Although this question did not pertain directly to the discovery of the unregistered gun,” it stemmed from and clarified G’s “legitimate question on whether defendant had any other firearms, narcotics, or anything illegal in the vehicle. In other words, once the situation advanced beyond the circumstances of the traffic stop,” G was justified in seeking additional information about the evolving circumstances. “And after defendant admitted to having marijuana in her vehicle, the police had probable cause to search areas in the vehicle where marijuana likely would be concealed, including defendant’s purse which was inside her car.” Affirmed.

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