Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Search of Pockets Exceeds Scope of Weapons Patdown

State v. Ragsdale, 05-1316 (Iowa Ct. App. May 24, 2006)

Ragsdale was seen in a high drug trafficking area of Waterloo, Iowa, and an officer spoke with him. Ragsdale consented to a search but responded by putting his hands in his pockets. When Ragsdale complied with the request to remove his hands from his pockets, the officer noticed a bulge in Ragsdale's left pants pocket. When the officer asked what was in the pocket Ragsdale lit out for the timber and was hauled down after a foot chase.

When Ragsdale was detained the officer reached into his pocket and retrieved seven baggies of marijuana. Ragsdale was convicted of possession with intent to deliver, and appeals the denial of his motion to suppress evidence.

The court held that when the officer reached into Ragsdale's pocket, the warrantless search went well beyond the scope of a weapons patdown, requiring the State to show probable cause, which requires a reasonable and articulable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring prior to the defendant's flight.

Ragsdale had not been observed involved in criminal activity prior to the approach of the officer.

In short, presence alone in a high drug trafficking area is not sufficient to transform a hunch into reasonable suspicion suffucuent to support a Terry stop and frisk.


Post a Comment

<< Home