Bass v. Com., Record No. 990894.

Docket NºRecord No. 990894.
Citation259 Va. 470, 525 S.E.2d 921
Case DateMarch 03, 2000
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia

525 S.E.2d 921
259 Va. 470

Roy Berger BASS
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia

Record No. 990894.

Supreme Court of Virginia.

March 3, 2000.


525 S.E.2d 922
Larry A. Pochucha (Coates & Davenport, on brief), Richmond, for appellant

Marla Graff Decker, Assistant Attorney General (Mark L. Earley, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: CARRICO, C.J., COMPTON,1 LACY, HASSELL, KEENAN, KOONTZ, and KINSER, JJ.

KOONTZ, Justice.

In this appeal, we consider whether a police officer's perception that a legal driving maneuver was made with the intent to evade a temporary traffic checkpoint is sufficient to give rise to a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the driver was involved in criminal wrongdoing, justifying an investigative stop of the driver's vehicle.

BACKGROUND

On March 24, 1997, Chesterfield County police officer William Shane Wickham was assigned to participate along with other officers in a temporary traffic checkpoint. The checkpoint was located on Cogbill Road between its intersections with Remuda and Tyrone Streets. Tyrone Street intersects Cogbill Road at a distance of approximately 210 feet from the intersection of Jefferson Davis Highway and Cogbill Road. Remuda Street intersects Cogbill Road at a distance of approximately 568 feet from Jefferson Davis Highway. A gasoline station is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Cogbill Road and Jefferson Davis Highway. The traffic checkpoint was located approximately 500 feet from this intersection.2

Officer Wickham was assigned to a "chase vehicle" with instructions to stop any vehicle that attempted to evade the checkpoint. From his position on Cogbill Road, nearer to Tyrone Street than Remuda Street, Officer Wickham observed a vehicle, subsequently determined to have been operated by Roy Berger Bass, turn left from the northbound

525 S.E.2d 923
lane of Jefferson Davis Highway onto Cogbill Road. Officer Wickham further observed that after making this turn, the vehicle proceeded toward the traffic checkpoint, turned left into the parking lot of the gasoline station, traveled through the parking lot without stopping, and exited the parking lot into the southbound lane of Jefferson Davis Highway

After observing these turns, Officer Wickham decided to stop the vehicle because it was the policy of his police department to stop any vehicle being driven in a manner so as to evade a traffic checkpoint. Officer Wickham testified that he believed that Bass was attempting to evade this particular traffic checkpoint because "[u]nlike any other vehicles that had pulled to the gas station [during the one hour that the checkpoint was in operation], Mr. Bass did not make any attempt to stop or check to see if the station was open, which, in fact, it was. He continued to travel through the gas station and travel southbound [on Jefferson Davis Highway]." Officer Wickham further testified that "to [his] knowledge, other than evading the checkpoint" Bass committed "no violation of any law" that Officer Wickham was able to observe prior to stopping Bass' vehicle.

On March 24, 1997, a warrant was issued charging Bass with a violation of Code § 18.2-266, driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Ultimately in the trial court, the Circuit Court of Chesterfield County, Bass filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the stop of his vehicle, asserting that Officer Wickham did not have adequate grounds upon which to stop and detain Bass. On October 22, 1997, prior to the commencement of trial, the motion to suppress was heard and denied. At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's case at trial, Bass' motion to strike the evidence was overruled. Bass then rested without presenting evidence and was found guilty.

Bass subsequently appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals. In an unpublished opinion, Bass v. Commonwealth, Record No. 2535-97-2, 1999 WL 1126440 (February 16, 1999), a divided panel of the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The majority found that the stop of Bass did not violate his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. The majority reasoned that "[t]he manner in which Bass made two quick turns, cutting through the parking lot without stopping at the [gasoline] station, reasonably supported Officer Wickham's suspicion that Bass sought to evade the [checkpoint]. That suspicion legitimated the stop." The dissent concluded that Bass' case is controlled by the Court of Appeals' decision in Murphy v. Commonwealth, 9 Va.App. 139, 384 S.E.2d 125 (1989). There, the Court held that "a driver's action in making a legal turn within sight of a [traffic checkpoint] does not give a police officer a reasonable basis to suspect that the driver is involved in criminal wrong doing." Id. at 141, 384 S.E.2d at 126. On March 29, 1999, the Court of Appeals denied Bass' petition for rehearing. We awarded Bass this appeal.

DISCUSSION

Although we have not previously addressed the specific issue presented by this appeal, the issue is rooted in and must be resolved by well-established principles that need not be recited in detail here. The undisputed facts establish that Bass was subjected to an investigatory stop, a brief encounter between a citizen and a police officer, and it is ultimately to be determined whether that stop was consistent with Bass' right protected by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to be free from...

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103 practice notes
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • July 29, 2003
    ...the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, giving it the benefit of any reasonable inferences. Bass v. Commonwealth, 259 Va. 470, 475, 525 S.E.2d 921, 924 (2000); Sabo v. Commonwealth, 38 Va.App. 63, 69, 561 S.E.2d 761, 764 At 2:10 a.m. on June 17, 2001, the Newport News ......
  • Rudolph v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0240-07-1 (Va. App. 2/26/2008), Record No. 0240-07-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • February 26, 2008
    ...were avoiding police officers in cases where that inference was considerably stronger than it is here. Page 25 See Bass v. Commonwealth, 259 Va. 470, 525 S.E.2d 921 (2000) (suppressing fruits of illegal stop of motorist who turned off of a street where police were conducting a sobriety chec......
  • Harris v. Com., Record No. 080437.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • October 31, 2008
    ...of the Fourth Amendment. Bolden, 263 Va. at 470, 561 S.E.2d at 704; McCain, 261 Va. at 490, 545 S.E.2d at 545; Bass v. Commonwealth, 259 Va. 470, 475, 525 S.E.2d 921, 924 (2000). The defendant has the burden to show that, considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwea......
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • February 4, 2003
    ...the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, giving it the benefit of any reasonable inferences. Bass v. Commonwealth, 259 Va. 470, 475, 525 S.E.2d 921, 924 (2000); Sabo v. Commonwealth, 38 Va.App. 63, 69, 561 S.E.2d 761, 764 At 2:10 a.m. on June 17, 2001, the Newport News ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
103 cases
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • July 29, 2003
    ...the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, giving it the benefit of any reasonable inferences. Bass v. Commonwealth, 259 Va. 470, 475, 525 S.E.2d 921, 924 (2000); Sabo v. Commonwealth, 38 Va.App. 63, 69, 561 S.E.2d 761, 764 At 2:10 a.m. on June 17, 2001, the Newport News ......
  • Rudolph v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0240-07-1 (Va. App. 2/26/2008), Record No. 0240-07-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • February 26, 2008
    ...were avoiding police officers in cases where that inference was considerably stronger than it is here. Page 25 See Bass v. Commonwealth, 259 Va. 470, 525 S.E.2d 921 (2000) (suppressing fruits of illegal stop of motorist who turned off of a street where police were conducting a sobriety chec......
  • Harris v. Com., Record No. 080437.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • October 31, 2008
    ...of the Fourth Amendment. Bolden, 263 Va. at 470, 561 S.E.2d at 704; McCain, 261 Va. at 490, 545 S.E.2d at 545; Bass v. Commonwealth, 259 Va. 470, 475, 525 S.E.2d 921, 924 (2000). The defendant has the burden to show that, considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwea......
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • February 4, 2003
    ...the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, giving it the benefit of any reasonable inferences. Bass v. Commonwealth, 259 Va. 470, 475, 525 S.E.2d 921, 924 (2000); Sabo v. Commonwealth, 38 Va.App. 63, 69, 561 S.E.2d 761, 764 At 2:10 a.m. on June 17, 2001, the Newport News ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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