Hamlin v. Com., Record No. 1412-99-2.

Docket NºRecord No. 1412-99-2.
Citation33 Va. App. 494, 534 S.E.2d 363
Case DateSeptember 26, 2000
CourtCourt of Appeals of Virginia

534 S.E.2d 363
33 Va.
App. 494

Calvin Leon HAMLIN
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia

Record No. 1412-99-2.

Court of Appeals of Virginia, Richmond.

September 26, 2000.


534 S.E.2d 364
Gregory W. Franklin, Assistant Public Defender (David J. Johnson, Public Defender, on brief), for appellant

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

Present: BENTON, WILLIS and HUMPHREYS, JJ.

HUMPHREYS, Judge.

Calvin Leon Hamlin was convicted in a bench trial of possession of cocaine. He argues on this appeal that the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion to suppress the evidence based upon his illegal detention by police officers. For the reasons that follow, we affirm his conviction.

"In reviewing a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress, '[t]he burden is upon [the defendant] to show that th[e] ruling, when the evidence is considered most favorably to the Commonwealth, constituted reversible error.'" McGee v. Commonwealth, 25 Va.App. 193, 197, 487 S.E.2d 259, 261 (1997) (en banc) (citation omitted). "[W]e review de novo the trial court's application of defined legal standards such as probable cause and reasonable suspicion to the particular facts of the case." Hayes v. Commonwealth, 29 Va.App. 647, 652, 514 S.E.2d 357, 359 (1999) (citation omitted). "In performing such analysis, we are bound by the trial court's findings of historical fact unless `plainly wrong' or without evidence to support them and we give due weight to the inferences drawn from those facts by resident judges and local law enforcement officers." McGee, 25 Va.App. at 198, 487 S.E.2d at 261 (citing Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 699, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 1663, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 (1996)).

BACKGROUND

On August 15, 1998, Richmond police officers, Douglas P. Vilkowski and Jason A. Yarema, were on patrol and stopped a car with no front license plate. The car was driven by Jesse Hamlin, appellant's cousin. Calvin Hamlin, the appellant, occupied the front passenger seat, and Mathew Pitchford was a passenger in the rear seat.

Yarema saw appellant reaching down and forward in front of his seat, and believing

534 S.E.2d 365
that appellant might have a weapon, Yarema approached the passenger side of the vehicle to ask appellant to get out of the car. When appellant complied, Yarema briefly placed handcuffs on appellant and patted him down for weapons. He found none. Officer Yarema then looked into the vehicle and found a brown paper bag containing an open bottle of beer on the floorboard in front of the passenger seat. He then looked under the passenger seat for weapons and found none. Officer Yarema next asked appellant to get back in the car, which appellant did. Yarema asked appellant and Pitchford for identification in order to investigate a possible open container violation, although he did not share his purpose with them. During this time, Vilkowski was charging Jesse Hamlin with driving on a suspended license

After receiving identification from appellant and Pitchford, Officer Yarema walked to the rear of the stopped vehicle where he could keep the occupants in view while he communicated their identifying information to the dispatcher. Within fifteen to twenty seconds, Yarema noticed appellant again reaching down and forward in the vehicle. Yarema then walked back to the passenger side of the vehicle and shined his flashlight inside. He saw appellant holding a clear plastic bag with a white powder substance, in the process of placing it under the seat. Yarema told appellant to put his hands up and get out of the car. When appellant failed to comply, Yarema opened the door and physically removed appellant. After a brief struggle, Yarema and Officer Vilkowski placed him under arrest. Found in appellant's hand was a red pouch containing a digital scale, razor blades, tinfoil, cut squares of paper and mannitol (a cutting agent for narcotics). The white powder later tested positive for cocaine.

ANALYSIS

Appellant argues that once Yarema satisfied himself there were no weapons on appellant's person or within his reach in the vehicle, the officer had no authority to further detain him by requesting identification and asking him to be seated in the car. We disagree.

"The [F]ourth [A]mendment does not proscribe all seizures, only those that are `unreasonable.' Whether a seizure is unreasonable is determined by balancing the individual's right to be free from arbitrary government intrusions against society's countervailing interest in preventing or detecting crime and in protecting its law enforcement officers." Bethea v. Commonwealth, 14 Va.App. 474, 476, 419 S.E.2d 249, 250 (1992) (en banc) (citation omitted), aff'd on other grounds, 245 Va. 416, 429 S.E.2d 211 (1993). The validity of a seizure "`turns on an objective assessment of the officer's actions in light of the facts and circumstances confronting him at the time,' and not on the officer's actual state of mind at the time the challenged action was taken." Maryland v. Macon, 472. U.S. 463, 470-71, 105 S.Ct. 2778, 2783, 86 L.Ed.2d 370 (1985) (quoting Scott v. United States, 436 U.S. 128, 136, 98 S.Ct. 1717, 1723, 56 L.Ed.2d 168 (1978)).

In Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 117 S.Ct. 882, 137 L.Ed.2d 41 (1997), in ruling that an officer may order a passenger from a vehicle, the United States Supreme Court noted that "as a practical matter, the passengers are already stopped by virtue of the stop of the vehicle." Id. at 413-14, 117 S.Ct. at 886. We have held previously that officers may detain passengers until the completion of a lawful traffic stop. See Hatcher v. Commonwealth, 14 Va.App. 487, 491-92, 419 S.E.2d 256, 259 (1992).

Under these facts, the vehicle was the subject of a lawful traffic stop, and appellant was necessarily detained for the duration of that event.

Following a lawful traffic stop, the Fourth Amendment permits the police to order the passengers to get out of the car pending the completion of the stop. This authority over passengers at a lawful traffic stop is deemed a "reasonable" seizure under the Fourth Amendment because the "weighty [public] interest in officer safety" during traffic stops, which "may be dangerous encounters," sufficiently outweighs the minimal additional intrusion upon the private interests of passengers, who "are already

534 S.E.2d 366
stopped by virtue of the [lawful] stop of the vehicle." Wilson, 519 U.S. at 413-14, 117 S.Ct. at 885-86; see also Hatcher, 14 Va.App. at 490-92, 419 S.E.2d at 258-59

Appellant does not contest his "seizure" by Yarema in asking him to leave the vehicle, placing him in handcuffs briefly and conducting a "pat-down" search of his clothing following appellant's movements in initially reaching down in the vehicle. He argues, however, that once the officer satisfied himself that appellant was unarmed, no reasonable, articulable suspicion existed for any further search, seizure or detention. He argues further, that in asking for and receiving appellant's identification and ordering appellant back into the vehicle, Yarema's "seizure" of appellant went beyond the de minimis detention necessitated by the stop of the vehicle. He asserts that although a...

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18 practice notes
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 29 Julio 2003
    ...(2000) (quoting Welshman v. Commonwealth, 28 Va.App. 20, 30, 502 S.E.2d 122, 126-27 (1998) (en banc)); see also Hamlin v. Commonwealth, 33 Va.App. 494, 499, 534 S.E.2d 363, 365 (2000). The Constitution simply "does not proscribe reasonable searches and seizures." Barkley v. Commonwealth, 39......
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 4 Febrero 2003
    ...433, 436 (2000) (quoting Welshman v. Commonwealth, 28 Va.App. 20, 30, 502 S.E.2d 122, 126-27 (1998) (en banc)); Hamlin v. Commonwealth, 33 Va.App. 494, 499, 534 S.E.2d 363, 365 (2000). (citation omitted). The Constitution simply "does not proscribe reasonable searches and seizures." Murphy ......
  • Robinson v. Com., Record No. 2474-03-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 17 Mayo 2005
    ...apparent to the officer that the item is evidence of a crime, contraband, or otherwise subject to seizure." Hamlin v. Commonwealth, 33 Va.App. 494, 502, 534 S.E.2d 363, 367 (2000) (citations omitted), aff'd on reh'g en banc, 35 Va.App. 375, 545 S.E.2d 556 ANNUNZIATA, Judge, dissenting. I co......
  • Barkley v. Com., Record No. 2885-01-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 11 Febrero 2003
    ...(2000) (quoting Welshman v. Commonwealth, 28 Va.App. 20, 30, 502 S.E.2d 122, 126-27 (1998) (en banc)); see also Hamlin v. Commonwealth, 33 Va.App. 494, 499, 534 S.E.2d 363, 365 (2000). The Constitution simply "does not proscribe reasonable searches and seizures." Murphy v. Commonwealth, 37 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 29 Julio 2003
    ...(2000) (quoting Welshman v. Commonwealth, 28 Va.App. 20, 30, 502 S.E.2d 122, 126-27 (1998) (en banc)); see also Hamlin v. Commonwealth, 33 Va.App. 494, 499, 534 S.E.2d 363, 365 (2000). The Constitution simply "does not proscribe reasonable searches and seizures." Barkley v. Commonwealth, 39......
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 4 Febrero 2003
    ...433, 436 (2000) (quoting Welshman v. Commonwealth, 28 Va.App. 20, 30, 502 S.E.2d 122, 126-27 (1998) (en banc)); Hamlin v. Commonwealth, 33 Va.App. 494, 499, 534 S.E.2d 363, 365 (2000). (citation omitted). The Constitution simply "does not proscribe reasonable searches and seizures." Murphy ......
  • Robinson v. Com., Record No. 2474-03-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 17 Mayo 2005
    ...apparent to the officer that the item is evidence of a crime, contraband, or otherwise subject to seizure." Hamlin v. Commonwealth, 33 Va.App. 494, 502, 534 S.E.2d 363, 367 (2000) (citations omitted), aff'd on reh'g en banc, 35 Va.App. 375, 545 S.E.2d 556 ANNUNZIATA, Judge, dissenting. I co......
  • Barkley v. Com., Record No. 2885-01-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 11 Febrero 2003
    ...(2000) (quoting Welshman v. Commonwealth, 28 Va.App. 20, 30, 502 S.E.2d 122, 126-27 (1998) (en banc)); see also Hamlin v. Commonwealth, 33 Va.App. 494, 499, 534 S.E.2d 363, 365 (2000). The Constitution simply "does not proscribe reasonable searches and seizures." Murphy v. Commonwealth, 37 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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