Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

Instructions

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E.g., 09/17/2021
E.g., 09/17/2021

Even if the defendant had properly preserved the issue, the officer did not use excessive force by taking the defendant to the ground during a valid traffic stop.

The trial court’s findings of fact support its rejection of the defendant’s argument that the show of force by law enforcement during a traffic stop amounted to an arrest.

An officer’s act of handcuffing the defendant during a Terry stop was reasonable and did not transform the stop into an arrest. The officer observed what he believed to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction between the defendant and another individual; the defendant was sitting in the back seat of a car, with two other people up front. Upon frisking the defendant, the officer felt an item consistent with narcotics, corroborating his suspicion of drug activity. The officer then handcuffed the defendant and recovered crack cocaine from his pocket. The circumstances presented a possible threat of physical violence given the connection between drugs and violence and the fact that the officer was outnumbered by the people in the car.

The trial court applied the wrong legal standard when granting the defendant’s motion to suppress. The trial court held that an arrest occurred when the defendant was handcuffed by an officer, and the arrest was not supported by probable cause. The trial court should have determined whether special circumstances existed that would have justified the officer’s use of handcuffs as the least intrusive means reasonable necessary to carry out the purpose of the investigative stop. The court remanded for the required determination.

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