Montague v. Com., Record No. 090337.

Docket NºRecord No. 090337.
Citation684 S.E.2d 583, 278 Va. 532
Case DateNovember 05, 2009
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia
684 S.E.2d 583
278 Va. 532
Chauncey Lamont MONTAGUE
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
Record No. 090337.
Supreme Court of Virginia.
November 5, 2009.

[684 S.E.2d 585]

S. Jane Chittom, Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Gregory W. Franklin, Assistant Attorney General (William C. Mims, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: KEENAN, KOONTZ, KINSER, LEMONS, GOODWYN, and MILLETTE, JJ., and LACY, S.J.

OPINION BY Justice BARBARA MILANO KEENAN.


In this appeal, we consider whether the record supports a circuit court's denial of a defendant's motion to suppress evidence. The defendant contended that he was unlawfully seized when two police officers approached him requesting information regarding his identity, and used that information to determine whether there were outstanding warrants for his arrest and whether he was trespassing on private property. We also consider whether the evidence was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for assault and battery of a law enforcement officer.

Chauncey Lamont Montague was convicted in a bench trial in the Circuit Court of the City of Danville for possession of cocaine, in violation of Code § 18.2-250; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of Code § 18.2-308.2; possession of a firearm while in possession of cocaine, in violation of Code § 18.2-308.4; and assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, in violation of Code § 18.2-57(C). Before trial, Montague filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the cocaine and firearm were obtained as a result of an unlawful seizure of his person in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The circuit court denied Montague's motion. At the conclusion of the bench trial, the circuit court sentenced Montague to a total of fifteen years and six months' imprisonment, with ten years suspended.

The Court of Appeals affirmed Montague's convictions in an unpublished order. Montague v. Commonwealth, No. 1663-07-3, 2009 WL 111645 (January 20, 2009). The Court held that the circuit court did not err in denying Montague's motion to suppress the evidence, because the encounter between the police and Montague was consensual in nature. Id., slip op. at 5. The Court also held that the evidence was sufficient to support Montague's conviction for assault and battery of a law enforcement officer. Id., slip op. at 6.

The evidence at trial showed that in January 2007, Lieutenant Gary Wilson and Officer

684 S.E.2d 586

Larry D. Land were engaged in off-duty employment at a local apartment complex. The officers were patrolling the premises in an effort to prevent individuals who had been barred from the complex from trespassing. The officers, who were wearing their police uniforms, observed Montague and a female companion leave one of the apartment buildings and walk toward a nearby unoccupied vehicle that had its engine running.

When Officer Land asked Montague whether he lived at the apartment complex, Montague responded that he did not. Officer Land also asked Montague whether he owned the vehicle, and Montague replied that he did. Although Montague was unable to produce any documentation establishing his identity, he provided the officers with his name, social security number, and date of birth.

After receiving that information, Officer Land contacted a police "dispatcher" to determine whether there were any outstanding arrest warrants for Montague. Angela Davis, Montague's companion, heard Officer Land contacting the dispatcher. However, the record contains no evidence indicating whether Montague was aware that Officer Land was attempting to obtain this information.

During the two or three minutes that the officers waited for a response from the dispatcher, the officers engaged in general conversation with Montague and remained a distance of between four and five feet from him. Meanwhile, Davis walked about five feet away from the officers and sat on the steps of an apartment building.

During this time, Montague did not ask the officers whether he was free to leave, nor did he attempt to leave. Also, the officers did not discuss with Montague whether he was permitted to leave.

As the officers continued to wait for a response from the dispatcher, Officer Land reviewed the "ban list" of individuals who were barred by the owner of the property from entering the premises. Officer Land testified that he customarily reviewed this list while waiting for a response regarding outstanding warrants because this procedure "makes it a little bit quicker for" the person talking with the police. Montague's name did not appear on the "ban list."

When the dispatcher relayed to the officers that there were two outstanding warrants for Montague's arrest, the officers immediately informed Montague that he was under arrest. As the officers attempted to take Montague into custody, Montague began "struggling," "twisting," and "jerking," in an apparent attempt to resist the officers' joint efforts to place him in handcuffs.

During this struggle, Montague repeatedly tried to reach into one of his pants pockets. When Officer Land pulled Montague's hand out of that pocket, a handgun fell onto the ground. Officer Land also observed some "packets" fall from Montague's sweatshirt pocket.

As Montague continued to resist the officers' attempt to place handcuffs on him, Lieutenant Wilson saw Montague push Officer Land and strike him in the chest with an elbow. Ultimately, after a period of several minutes, the officers were able to subdue Montague. The officers then retrieved the firearm and the "packets" that later were determined to contain cocaine.

In his first argument on appeal, Montague contends that the Court of Appeals erroneously upheld the circuit court's denial of his motion to suppress the evidence. Montague asserts that his encounter with the police officers was not consensual, and that the officers lacked any reasonable suspicion to believe that he was engaged in criminal activity. According to Montague, the officers unlawfully seized him at the time that they asserted the authority to check for outstanding warrants and to ascertain whether he was trespassing at the apartment complex. Montague maintains that under these circumstances, a reasonable person would not have thought that he was free to leave the officers' presence. We disagree with...

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34 practice notes
  • Pleasants v. Town of Louisa, Case No. 3:11–cv–00032.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • March 12, 2012
    ...“because the elements of assault are not statutorily defined, this Court must apply the common law definition”); Montague v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 532, 541, 684 S.E.2d 583, 588 (2009) (affirming conviction under § 18.2–57 11 and noting that “[a]ssault and battery are common law crimes”). It......
  • Doe v. Delta Airlines, Inc., No. 13 Civ. 6287(PAE).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 10, 2015
    ...to constitute a battery." Pleasants v. Town of Louisa, 524 Fed.Appx. 891, 897 (4th Cir.2013)(citing 129 F.Supp.3d 41Montague v. Virginia, 278 Va. 532, 684 S.E.2d 583 (2009); Lynch v. Virginia, 131 Va. 762, 109 S.E. 427 (1921)). "Pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer m......
  • Kelley v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1063-17-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 8, 2019
    ...the clinic, giving her a motivation to lie about what had occurred."Assault and battery are common law crimes." Montague v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 532, 541, 684 S.E.2d 583 (2009) ; see also Code § 18.2-57. Placing an individual in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm constitutes an assault......
  • Holloway v. Commonwealth Of Va., Record No. 0828-08-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • August 10, 2010
    ...another person. Battery is the actual infliction of corporal hurt on another that is done willfully or in anger. Montague v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 532, 541, 684 S.E.2d 583, 589 (2009) (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). Appellant concedes that the required mental state m......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
34 cases
  • Pleasants v. Town of Louisa, Case No. 3:11–cv–00032.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • March 12, 2012
    ...“because the elements of assault are not statutorily defined, this Court must apply the common law definition”); Montague v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 532, 541, 684 S.E.2d 583, 588 (2009) (affirming conviction under § 18.2–57 11 and noting that “[a]ssault and battery are common law crimes”). It......
  • Doe v. Delta Airlines, Inc., No. 13 Civ. 6287(PAE).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 10, 2015
    ...to constitute a battery." Pleasants v. Town of Louisa, 524 Fed.Appx. 891, 897 (4th Cir.2013)(citing 129 F.Supp.3d 41Montague v. Virginia, 278 Va. 532, 684 S.E.2d 583 (2009); Lynch v. Virginia, 131 Va. 762, 109 S.E. 427 (1921)). "Pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer m......
  • Kelley v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1063-17-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 8, 2019
    ...the clinic, giving her a motivation to lie about what had occurred."Assault and battery are common law crimes." Montague v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 532, 541, 684 S.E.2d 583 (2009) ; see also Code § 18.2-57. Placing an individual in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm constitutes an assault......
  • Holloway v. Commonwealth Of Va., Record No. 0828-08-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • August 10, 2010
    ...another person. Battery is the actual infliction of corporal hurt on another that is done willfully or in anger. Montague v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 532, 541, 684 S.E.2d 583, 589 (2009) (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). Appellant concedes that the required mental state m......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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