Lovelace v. Commonwealth
In Lovelace v. Commonwealth, 258 Va. 588, 522 S.E.2d 856 (1999), the Supreme Court of Virginia opined that when a suspect is stopped for an offense that only gives rise to a citation or summons, a "full field-type search" is not allowed. Id. at 594, 522 S.E.2d at 859.
The Court wrote, "Because the nature and duration of such an encounter are significantly different and less threatening than in the case of an officer effecting a custodial arrest, the rationales justifying a full field-type search are not sufficient to authorize such a search incident to the issuance of a citation." Id.
Yet Lovelace, citing Knowles, did not bar a "pat-down" in a citation situation under the proper circumstances. Id. at 594, 522 S.E.2d at 858-59.
The Court wrote, "However, the Supreme Court recognized that the concern for officer safety is not absent in a routine traffic stop and may justify some additional intrusion.
However, by itself, it does not warrant the greater intrusion accompanying 'a full field-type search.'" Id. at 594, 522 S.E.2d at 858.
The Court further opined:
We believe that the scope of these further intrusions is limited to what is necessary to answer the concerns raised by the presence of either historical rationale. In other words, an encounter between a police officer and an individual that is similar to a routine traffic stop and results in the issuance of a citation or summons may involve some degree of danger to the officer or some need to preserve or discover evidence sufficient to warrant an additional intrusion, but it will not necessarily justify a full field-type search. Id. at 594, 522 S.E.2d at 859.
The Court concluded from Lovelace that, even in a citation offense, the officer may pat-down the suspect if the officer reasonably believes that the suspect might be armed and dangerous.
The Supreme Court of Virginia, guided by the rationale of Knowles, concluded that Class 3 and 4 misdemeanors were "similar in nature and duration to a routine traffic stop" and did not "contemplate a custodial situation equivalent to an actual custodial arrest." Lovelace, 258 Va. at 596; see Code 19.2-74(A)(2).
Thus, "an 'arrest' that is effected by issuing a citation or summons rather than taking the suspect into custody does not, by itself, justify a full field-type search." Id. at 596.
The Court recognized, however, that such "an encounter between police and an individual . . . may involve some degree of danger to the officer or . . . need to preserve or discover evidence sufficient to warrant an additional intrusion," "limited to what is necessary to answer the concerns raised by . . . either historical rationale." 258 Va. at 594.