California Landmark Cases on Motion to Suppress Evidence

"In ruling on a motion to suppress, the trial court must find the historical facts, select the rule of law, and apply the rule to the facts in order to determine whether the law as applied has been violated. . We review the trial court's resolution of the factual inquiry under the deferential substantial evidence standard. . Selection of the applicable law is a mixed question of law and fact that is subject to independent review. ." (People v. Gonzales and Soliz (2011) 52 Cal.4th 254, 284.) Evidence challenged as having been obtained as a result of an unreasonable search or seizure may be suppressed only if it was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the federal Constitution. (People v. Camacho (2000) 23 Cal.4th 824, 847 (Camacho).) "It is the People's burden to justify a warrantless search." (People v. Schmitz (2012) 55 Cal.4th 909, 915, fn. 4.) The defendant has the burden of filing a motion asserting the absence of a warrant, and if the People offer a justification for the warrantless search, of presenting arguments as to why the People's justification is inadequate. (Ibid.) "A detention is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when the detaining officer can point to specific articulable facts that, considered in light of the totality of the circumstances, provide some objective manifestation that the person detained may be involved in criminal activity." (People v. Souza (1994) 9 Cal.4th 224, 231 (Souza).) The reasonable suspicion necessary to justify a brief, investigative detention is less than that required to establish probable cause to arrest. (Id. at p. 230.) "'The determination of reasonable suspicion must be based on commonsense judgments and inferences about human behavior.' ." (People v. Letner and Tobin (2010) 50 Cal.4th 99, 146.) Possible innocent explanations for the circumstances relied on by a police officer do not necessarily preclude the possibility of a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. (Ibid.) The question is not whether particular conduct is innocent or guilty but rather the degree of suspicion that attaches to particular noncriminal acts. (Id. at p. 147.) A general description of a suspect, when combined with other circumstances known to the officer, may justify a detention. (In re Carlos M. (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 372, 381-382 (Carlos M.).) Such circumstances include being near the crime site and in the presence of a person who closely resembles a described suspect. (Id. at p. 382.) Evasive actions by a suspect may also support an officer's suspicion that criminal activity is afoot and that the suspect is involved in that activity. (Souza, supra, 9 Cal.4th at p. 241.) "An investigative detention may, at some point, become so overly intrusive that it can no longer be characterized as a minimal intrusion designed to confirm quickly or dispel the suspicions which justified the initial stop. . When the detention exceeds the boundaries of a permissible investigative stop, the detention becomes a de facto arrest requiring probable cause. . However, there is no hard and fast line to distinguish permissible investigative detentions from impermissible de facto arrests. Instead, the issue is decided on the facts of each case, with focus on whether the police diligently pursued a means of investigation reasonably designed to dispel or confirm their suspicions quickly, using the least intrusive means reasonably available under the circumstances. ." (Carlos M., supra, 220 Cal.App.3d at pp. 384-385.) The police may restrain a suspect under detention when he is suspected of having committed a felony or when restraint is reasonably necessary to effect the detention. (People v. Celis (2004) 33 Cal.4th 667, 676 (Celis) police may draw their guns or use handcuffs when stopping someone suspected of committing a felony; Carlos M., supra, at p. 385 "the issue is whether the restraint employed exceeded that which was reasonably necessary for the detention".)