Salt Lake City v. Ray

In Salt Lake City v. Ray, 2000 UT App 55, 998 P.2d 274, officers detained a woman after receiving a call from a convenience store owner expressing concern that the woman in question had been in front of the convenience store for approximately two hours. The store owner did not express any suspicion that the woman was somehow connected to past, present, or future criminal activity. Id. The officers questioned the woman, who stated that she was waiting for a ride, and then asked for identification in order to run a warrants check. Id. The officers in Ray testified that they did not suspect the woman of any criminal activity when they took her identification in order to run a warrants check. Id. In Salt Lake City v. Ray, two uniformed officers engaged in a consensual encounter with Ray, a pedestrian, asked her for identification, and she complied with the request by producing a state identification card. See 998 P.2d at 276. However, "rather than viewing the information and returning the card, one of the officers retained the identification" and stepped away "to check for warrants on his portable radio" while the other officer asked for permission to search Ray's bag. Id. Although Ray acceded to a search of her bag, the court held that the encounter became a seizure such that her accession to the search was not truly consensual. See id. at 276, 278. Given the totality of the circumstances, it is clear that a reasonable person in Ray's position would not feel free to just walk away, thereby abandoning her identification, let alone to approach the officer, take back her identification, and then leave. Instead, the officer's retention of her identification during the warrant check sufficiently restrained Ray's freedom of movement that she was seized for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 278.