State v. Bonner

In State v. Bonner, 1995 WL 562162, at 2 (Del. Super. Aug. 30, 1995), the Superior Court denied the defendant's motion to suppress because the defendant was not required to be Mirandized prior to the statements, that were given by him. Bonner, 1995 WL 562162, at 4. The defendant argued that the officer's questioning of the defendant during a traffic stop rendered him "in custody"; thus triggering the requirements of Miranda. Id. at 2. In Bonner, a police officer observed the defendant speeding and defendant's failure to utilize a turn signal as he was making a left hand turn. Approximately a week previously, while responding to a loud party complaint, the officer had observed the same vehicle unoccupied at the party location and had smelled the odor of marijuana and observed marijuana in the vehicle's ash tray. The police officer subsequently stopped the defendant's vehicle and advised the defendant that he had failed to properly use his turn signal. While the police officer was preparing the traffic summons, he questioned the defendant, who was seated in the rear of the patrol car, regarding the marijuana the police officer had seen in the defendant's vehicle a week previously. The defendant stated that the marijuana from the prior week had not been his, but that any marijuana found in the ashtray at this time was his. The police officer then searched the defendant's vehicle and seized 7.92 grams of marijuana. The Bonner Court found that the "circumstances surrounding the traffic stop and subsequent questioning of the defendant were not prolonged or coercive; were performed in a public place by only one officer; and if it weren't for the voluntary statements made by the defendant, he would have been free to leave after the summons preparation process had concluded." Id. at 3. The Bonner Court denied the defendant's motion to suppress because the defendant had not been "in custody," nor had his freedom of action been curtailed beyond that reasonably necessary for the traffic summons process. Id. at 4.