Law School Case Brief
State v. Wolfe - 93 Or. App. 401, 763 P.2d 154 (1988)
A police officer may stop a person if he has reasonable suspicion that, under the totality of the circumstances, the person has committed a crime. Or. Rev. Stat. § 131.615. The test is objective and requires less than probable cause.
At a time when there were burglaries in the area, an officer received a report that two men in a sports car had been stopping at houses with "for sale" signs posted. The officer located the car, which defendant was driving and which had a broken brake light, and pulled it over. Defendant gave the officer his driver's license but the officer did not cite or arrest him. The police used the information from the detention to obtain a search warrant for defendant's person, residence, and car and for his companion's person and residence. After the searches, defendant was charged. The trial court held that the stop of defendant's vehicle was illegal as it was not supported by reasonable suspicion that defendant had committed a crime.
Was the police officer's stop of defendant’s vehicle illegal?
The Court reversed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the stop was based not only on defendant's appearance, but also on the officer's knowledge of previous burglaries in the area and on the information that he had received regarding the conduct of defendant and his companion. The Court also held that, given the fact that defendant's companion lacked identification, the stop did not extend for longer than reasonably necessary to accomplish the purposes of the stop.
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