The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Vissarriagas on June 18, 2012.
Criminal Law—Fourth Amendment—Suppression of Evidence—Inventory Search—Pretextual Traffic Stop.
In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court considered whether the trial court erred in suppressing evidence seized by police in the course of an inventory search on the basis that the traffic stop preceding the inventory search was pretextual and the inventory search therefore invalid. The Court held that, regardless of the officers’ pretextual or subjective intent in stopping the vehicle, the officers possessed an independent and objective basis to make the traffic stop; therefore, the stop was valid. The Court found there were insufficient factual findings to allow it to review the validity of the inventory search. Accordingly, the trial court’s suppression order was reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court for factual findings and conclusions of law concerning the validity of the inventory search.
Summary and full case available here.