Reittinger v. Commonwealth

In Reittinger v. Commonwealth, 260 Va. 232, 532 S.E.2d 25 (2000), two armed deputies stopped and approached the car Reittinger was driving at night in a rural area. Id. at 236, 532 S.E.2d at 27. One deputy asked three times for permission to search the vehicle. Id. at 237, 532 S.E.2d at 27. Reittinger never explicitly gave his permission for the search, but instead got out of the car, at which point the deputy observed a bulge and began a pat-down search of Reittinger. Id. at 234, 532 S.E.2d at 26. The Court's opinion focused on the following factors in determining that the defendant was illegally detained: (1) the deputy sheriffs stopped the defendant in a rural area at nighttime; (2) two armed deputies, one on each side of the defendant's vehicle, confronted him; (3) one deputy asked the defendant for consent to search three times. The Supreme Court of Virginia held that, although Reittinger was told by the deputy he was free to leave after the deputy gave him a verbal warning, the events that transpired immediately thereafter, namely, questioning about drugs in his vehicle and a request for permission to search, "would suggest to a reasonable person that just the opposite was the case."