Wilson v. Com., Record No. 1166-97-1.

Docket NºRecord No. 1166-97-1.
Citation29 Va. App. 63, 509 S.E.2d 540
Case DateJanuary 26, 1999
CourtCourt of Appeals of Virginia

509 S.E.2d 540
29 Va.
App. 63

Andra S. WILSON
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia

Record No. 1166-97-1.

Court of Appeals of Virginia, Norfolk.

January 26, 1999.


509 S.E.2d 541
Timothy E. Miller, Public Defender (Patricia A. Cannon, Senior Assistant Public Defender; Office of the Public Defender, on brief), for appellant

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

Present: BRAY, OVERTON, JJ., and BAKER, Senior Judge.

BAKER, Senior Judge.

Andra S. Wilson (appellant) appeals from his bench trial conviction by the Circuit Court of the City of Suffolk (trial court) for driving while intoxicated in violation of Code § 18.2-266. Appellant contends the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence. We agree and reverse the conviction.

On an appeal from a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress

[w]e view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party, granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible therefrom. We review the trial court's findings of historical fact only for "clear error,"1 but we review de novo the trial court's application of defined legal standards to the particular facts of a case.

Harris v. Commonwealth, 27 Va.App. 554, 561, 500 S.E.2d 257, 260 (1998).

So viewed, the evidence proved that on December 8, 1996, Officer Sayas was instructed by his lieutenant to establish a "security" checkpoint at the Hoffler Apartment Complex (Hoffler), which was owned by the Suffolk Public Housing Authority (the Authority). The Authority requested police assistance in response to resident complaints about trespassers and drug dealers on the premises. Sayas testified that he had patrolled Hoffler previously but that this was the first time he conducted a checkpoint there.

Sayas and another officer established the checkpoint just inside the entrance to Hoffler. They were told to stop all persons, whether traveling in a vehicle or on foot, entering the complex between midnight and 2:00 a.m. The officers were to ascertain the identity of each, person entering the complex and that person's purpose for being there. Appellant, who was driving an automobile, was stopped at the checkpoint at approximately 1:35 a.m. Sayas arrested appellant after determining that appellant was intoxicated. Appellant stipulated at trial that the evidence was sufficient to convict him of' driving while intoxicated.

509 S.E.2d 542
"[S]topping a motor vehicle and detaining its operator at a roadblock [or checkpoint] constitutes a `seizure' within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment." Crandol v. City of Newport News, 238 Va. 697, 700, 386 S.E.2d 113, 114 (1989). If the stop is made without probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, then "the seizure must be carried out pursuant to a plan embodying explicit, neutral limitations on the conduct of individual officers." Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 51, 99 S.Ct. 2637, 61 L.Ed.2d 357 (1979)

To determine whether a checkpoint stop is constitutionally valid, we apply the balancing test established in Brown. See Lowe v. Commonwealth, 230 Va. 346, 350, 337 S.E.2d 273, 276 (1985). The Brown test involves a weighing of three criteria: "(1) the gravity of the public concerns served by the seizure, (2) the degree to which the seizure advances the public interest, and (3) the severity of the interference with individual liberty." Id. "[A] `central concern' in balancing the foregoing competing considerations has been to make certain that `an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy is not subject to arbitrary invasions solely at the unfettered discretion of officers in...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 practice notes
  • Edmond & Palmer v. Goldsmith, No. 98-4124
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 7, 1999
    ...States v. Morales-Zamora, 974 F.2d 149 (10th Cir. 1992); Galberth v. United States, 590 A.2d 990 (D.C. 1991), and Wilson v. Commonwealth, 509 S.E.2d 540 (Va. App. 1999), which held them illegal, with Merrett v. Moore, 58 F.3d 1547 (11th Cir. 1995), and State v. Damask, 936 S.W.2d 565 (Mo. 1......
  • Overhead Door Co. of Norfolk v. Lewis, Record No. 0597-98-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 26, 1999
    ...Corp., No. 145-59-79 (Va. Workers' Comp. Comm'n Feb. 25, 1994) (same). Employer conceded this fact at oral argument but contended it 509 S.E.2d 540 should be allowed either option—to present the issue to the commission or simply to raise the issue on appeal to this Under Rule 5A:18, [n]o ru......
2 cases
  • Edmond & Palmer v. Goldsmith, No. 98-4124
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 7, 1999
    ...States v. Morales-Zamora, 974 F.2d 149 (10th Cir. 1992); Galberth v. United States, 590 A.2d 990 (D.C. 1991), and Wilson v. Commonwealth, 509 S.E.2d 540 (Va. App. 1999), which held them illegal, with Merrett v. Moore, 58 F.3d 1547 (11th Cir. 1995), and State v. Damask, 936 S.W.2d 565 (Mo. 1......
  • Overhead Door Co. of Norfolk v. Lewis, Record No. 0597-98-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 26, 1999
    ...Corp., No. 145-59-79 (Va. Workers' Comp. Comm'n Feb. 25, 1994) (same). Employer conceded this fact at oral argument but contended it 509 S.E.2d 540 should be allowed either option—to present the issue to the commission or simply to raise the issue on appeal to this Under Rule 5A:18, [n]o ru......

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