United States v. Gaines – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Gaines, 668 F.3d 170 (4th Cir. 2012), the officers illegally stopped the defendant. Id. at 171. During a subsequent illegal pat-down of the defendant, one of the officers discovered a handgun. Id. The defendant then assaulted the two police officers. Id.

The defendant was indicted on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Id. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress the firearm because the stop and search of his person violated the Fourth Amendment. Id.

The Government argued that, pursuant to Sprinkle, the taint of the unlawful stop was purged when defendant assaulted the officers. Id. at 174.

However, the Fourth Circuit distinguished Sprinkle by noting that the firearm in that case "was only discovered after the defendant engaged in illegal activity subsequent to an earlier unlawful stop." Id.

In Gaines, the discovery of the firearm took place before the defendant's subsequent criminal conduct; therefore, the subsequent criminal conduct could not constitute an intervening event for purposes of suppressing the firearm. Id.