State v. Rankin

Decision Date10 June 2004
Docket NumberNo. 72509-8.,72509-8.
Citation151 Wash.2d 689,92 P.3d 202
PartiesSTATE of Washington, Respondent, v. James Bruce RANKIN, Petitioner. State of Washington, Respondent, v. Kevin D. Staab, Petitioner.
CourtWashington Supreme Court

Washington Appellate Project, Sharon Blackford, Seattle, Nielsen, Broman & Assoc., Eric Nielsen, Seattle, for Petitioner.

James Krider, Snohomish County Prosecutor, Seth Fine and Charles Blackman, Deputies, Everett, Norm Maleng, King County Prosecutor, Daniel Clerk, Deputy, Seattle, for Respondent.

Tom P. Conom, Edmonds, for Amicus Curiae, Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


The principal issue we are asked to resolve in this consolidated case is this: whether a police officer violates article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution when the officer requests identification from a passenger in a lawfully stopped vehicle but lacks an articulable suspicion that the passenger has engaged in criminal activity. The Court of Appeals concluded that although an officer in such a circumstance cannot demand identification from a passenger, an officer does not violate the state constitution by merely requesting that the passenger produce identification. We disagree with the Court of Appeals, concluding that the aforementioned constitutional provision affords automobile passengers a right of privacy that is violated when an officer requests identification from a passenger for investigative purposes, absent an independent basis for making the request. The Court of Appeals must, therefore, be reversed in both cases before us.

I. State v. Rankin

On September 17, 1999, a vehicle driven by Karena Gunn was stopped by a Snohomish County sheriff's deputy. The deputy did so because he observed Gunn's vehicle "roll over a marked stop line," a noncriminal traffic offense. Rankin's Clerk's Papers at 5. James Rankin was a passenger in Gunn's vehicle. Although the deputy did not observe Rankin engaged in any criminal activity on this occasion, he recalled that he had arrested Rankin approximately a month earlier for possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of controlled substances. The deputy requested Gunn's driver's license, and then asked Rankin if he had any identification on his person. Rankin and Gunn each responded by providing the deputy with identification cards. The deputy used the personal information from the cards to run a check to see if there were warrants outstanding for either of the individuals. He learned that there were no warrants for Gunn but that there was an outstanding warrant for Rankin's arrest for allegedly violating a no-contact order. Consequently, he placed Rankin under arrest. During a search incident to the arrest, the deputy discovered a knife and about one ounce of methamphetamine on Rankin.

Rankin was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court with possession of a controlled substance. Rankin then moved to suppress the evidence that was seized from him at the time of his arrest. The trial court granted the motion and suppressed the evidence, concluding that the encounter was a seizure. It then dismissed the case, concluding that the State possessed insufficient evidence to maintain the charges against Rankin.

State v. Staab

On March 3, 1999, an officer from the Tukwila Police Department stopped a vehicle for the traffic offense of not having a license plate light. The officer asked the driver and his passenger, Kevin Staab, to produce their driver's licenses. Staab testified that the officer "was not politely asking when he wanted to see my driver's license," an assertion that the officer did not deny. Staab Report of Proceedings at 41. When Staab reached into his shirt pocket for his identification card, a clear plastic bag containing a white chalky substance fell out. Staab then put the bag back in his pocket and told the officer his name. After determining that there were no outstanding warrants for Staab, the officer arrested Staab based on his belief that the plastic bag contained cocaine. Staab admitted to the officer that the bag contained approximately three grams of cocaine.

Staab was thereafter charged in King County Superior Court with a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, chapter 69.50 RCW. At a subsequent hearing on the admissibility of the cocaine, the trial court determined that an officer may ask a passenger for identification even if the officer lacks a reasonable suspicion that the passenger is engaged in criminal activity. Consequently, it denied Staab's motion to suppress the cocaine. Staab was later found guilty of the charge.

At the Court of Appeals

Staab appealed his conviction to Division One of the Court of Appeals. The State appealed the order suppressing evidence in Rankin's case to that same court. The Court of Appeals consolidated the appeals and held that while an officer may not require a passenger to provide identification, unless there are independent grounds to question the passenger, the officer may request identification. State v. Rankin, 108 Wash.App. 948, 951, 954, 33 P.3d 1090 (2001), review granted, 147 Wash.2d 1014, 56 P.3d 991 (2002). It, therefore, affirmed Staab's conviction and reversed the trial court's suppression of evidence in Rankin's case, remanding the latter case for trial.


Rankin and Staab both contend that the officers' requests for identification violated article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution. The determination of whether undisputed facts constitute a violation of that provision of the Washington Constitution is a question of law, which is reviewed de novo. State v. Thorn, 129 Wash.2d 347, 351, 917 P.2d 108 (1996), overruled on other grounds by State v. O'Neill, 148 Wash.2d 564, 62 P.3d 489 (2003)

. Here, the determinative facts of this case are not in dispute. Our review, therefore, is de novo.

"It is well settled that article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution provides greater protection to individual privacy rights than the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution." State v. Jones, 146 Wash.2d 328, 332, 45 P.3d 1062 (2002). Therefore, we need not engage in an analysis under State v. Gunwall, 106 Wash.2d 54, 720 P.2d 808 (1986). State v. White, 135 Wash.2d 761, 769, 958 P.2d 982 (1998).

The Washington Constitution provides that "[n]o person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law." Const. art. I, § 7. This provision protects "those privacy interests which citizens of this state have held, and should be entitled to hold, safe from governmental trespass absent a warrant." State v. Myrick, 102 Wash.2d 506, 511, 688 P.2d 151 (1984). Indeed, a warrantless search or seizure is considered per se unconstitutional unless it falls within one of the few exceptions to the warrant requirement. State v. Ladson, 138 Wash.2d 343, 349, 979 P.2d 833 (1999). When analyzing police-citizen interactions, we must first determine whether a warrantless search or seizure has taken place, and if it has, whether the action was justified by an exception to the warrant requirement. O'Neill, 148 Wash.2d at 574, 62 P.3d 489. Here, the State does not contend that the encounters were justified by any exception to the warrant requirement. The State argues only that no seizure occurred.

"[N]ot every encounter between a police officer and a citizen is an intrusion requiring an objective justification." United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 553, 100 S.Ct. 1870, 64 L.Ed.2d 497 (1980). However, a seizure occurs, under article I, section 7, when considering all the circumstances, an individual's freedom of movement is restrained and the individual would not believe he or she is free to leave or decline a request due to an officer's use of force or display of authority. O'Neill, 148 Wash.2d at 574, 62 P.3d 489. This determination is made by objectively looking at the actions of the law enforcement officer. State v. Young, 135 Wash.2d 498, 501, 957 P.2d 681 (1998). Moreover, it is elementary that all investigatory detentions constitute a seizure. State v. Armenta, 134 Wash.2d 1, 10, 948 P.2d 1280 (1997).

An automobile passenger is not seized when a police officer merely stops the vehicle in which the passenger is riding. State v. Mendez, 137 Wash.2d 208, 222, 970 P.2d 722 (1999). Under article I, section 7, however, passengers are unconstitutionally detained when an officer requests identification "unless other circumstances give the police independent cause to question [the] passengers." State v. Larson, 93 Wash.2d 638, 642, 611 P.2d 771 (1980). In Larson, officers observed several individuals sitting in an illegally parked automobile. As the officers drove up to the parked automobile, the driver of the automobile began to drive it away. The officers then activated their emergency lights and stopped the automobile. Upon confronting the driver and his passengers, the officers "asked" for their identification. Id. at 640, 611 P.2d 771. When one of the passengers attempted to comply with the request by opening her purse to locate her identification, an officer observed a plastic bag of marijuana in the purse. After the passenger was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, she moved to suppress the evidence that was obtained as a result of "the request for identification." Id.

The trial court ordered suppression, reasoning that the police officers did not have any legal justification for "requesting" identification from the passenger. State v. Larson, 21 Wash.App. 506, 507, 587 P.2d 171 (1978). The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision, determining that "the police may ask for identification from passengers as well as the driver." Id. at 509, 587 P.2d 171 (emphasis added). This court reversed the Court of Appeals, concluding

that the police officer who detained the petitioner for the purpose of requiring her to identify herself did so

To continue reading

Request your trial
263 cases
  • State v. Grocery Mfrs. Ass'n
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • January 20, 2022
    ...1-2 (Wash. Ct. App. No. 49768-9-II (2017)); In re Dependency of MSR , 174 Wash.2d 1, 9, 271 P.3d 234 (2012) (citing State v. Rankin , 151 Wash.2d 689, 709, 92 P.3d 202 (2004) ). These factors show the nature of the offense was grave and the extent was broad.¶21 GMA attempts to analogize the......
  • State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Washington Court of Appeals
    • May 6, 2019
    ...formulation to state constitutional seizure analysis, see, e.g., Harrington, 167 Wash.2d at 664, 222 P.3d 92 ; State v. Rankin, 151 Wash.2d 689, 695, 92 P.3d 202 (2004) ; O’Neill, 148 Wash.2d at 574, 62 P.3d 489, as do we. See, e.g., Butler, 2 Wash. App. 2d at 561, 411 P.3d 393 ; State v. M......
  • State v. Brockob
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • December 28, 2006
    ...Officer Black requested identification from him, as a vehicle passenger, for investigatory purposes in violation of State v. Rankin, 151 Wash.2d 689, 92 P.3d 202 (2004). ¶ 82 A criminal defendant who claims ineffective assistance of counsel must prove that (1) the attorney's performance was......
  • State v. Howerton
    • United States
    • Washington Court of Appeals
    • March 30, 2015
    ...a warrantless seizure or Terry stop passes constitutional muster is a question of law the court reviews de novo. State v. Rankin, 151 Wash.2d 689, 694, 92 P.3d 202 (2004).Whether the 911 Call Supported Reasonable Suspicion ¶ 10 “[A] stop, although less intrusive than an arrest, is neverthel......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 books & journal articles
  • Survey of Washington Search and Seizure Law: 2005 Update
    • United States
    • Seattle University School of Law Seattle University Law Review No. 28-03, March 2005
    • Invalid date
    ...Supreme Court has held that this provision provides more protection than the Fourth Amendment. State v. Rankin, 151 Wn.2d 689, 694, 92 P.3d 202, 204 (2004) (en banc). Accordingly, when an informant's tip is the basis of probable cause, Washington courts have rejected the federal totality of......
  • Chapter 2. Traffic Detentions
    • United States
    • ABA General Library Street Legal. A Guide to Pre-trial Criminal Procedure for Police, Prosecutors, and Defenders
    • January 1, 2007
    ...N.D. 2006). A minority of state courts require reasonable suspicion to ask a passenger’s name for investigatory purposes. State v. Rankin, 92 P.3d 202 (Wash. 2004) (applying state constitution); State v. Affsprung, 87 P.3d 1088 (N.M. 2004). The driver of a car stopped by police is clearly s......
  • Survey of Washington Search and Seizure Law: 2013 Update
    • United States
    • Seattle University School of Law Seattle University Law Review No. 36-04, June 2013
    • Invalid date
    ...state have held, and should be entitled to hold, safe from governmental trespass absent a warrant." State v. Rankin, 151 Wn.2d 689, 695, 92 P.3d 202 (2004) (quoting State v. Myrick, 102 Wn.2d 506, 511, 688 P.2d 151 (1984)). In the remainder of this section, we discuss the protection of a pe......
  • Your Papers, Please: Police Authority to Request Identification from a Passenger During a Traffic Stop in Alaska
    • United States
    • Duke University School of Law Alaska Law Review No. 29, December 2012
    • Invalid date
    ..."direct request that] the defendant search for and produce a document . . . amounts to an unlawful seizure"). [89] State v. Rankin, 92 P.3d 202, 207 (Wash. 2004) (holding that "officers [may] engage passengers in conversation. . . . [but when the] interaction develops into an investigation,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT