Thursday, May 24, 2007

How Long Is A Vehicle Stop Supposed To Last?

State v. Faga, no. 06-0945 (Iowa Ct. App. May 9, 2007)

Faga's truck was stopped for a speeding violation and the configuration of the vehicle was thought to be suspicious. The officer issued the driver a speeding ticket and then released her after some time had elapsed. As she was walking back to her vehicle the officer asked her if he could search the truck, to which she assented.

That's when the 170 pounds of marijuana was discovered in a secret compartment, and thimgs went rapidly down hill from there.

The defendant argued that the excessive period of time that had elapsed constituted an illegal detention and that consent to search was tainted being the result of the unlawful detention.

The court of appeals found that the period of the stop, somewhere between 30 and 50 minutes, was not unreasonable under the circumstances given the trooper's experience, the configuration of the truck, the nervousness of the defendant and the implausibility of her story.

In addition the court found that the traffic stop had concluded, thus there could be no taint to the oral and written consent to search the truck that the defendant gave.


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