The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Berdahl on Thursday, October 25, 2012.
Possession—Pat-Down Search—Suppression of Evidence—Voluntary Consent.
Defendant appealed the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of possession of a schedule II controlled substance, a class 6 felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class 2 petty offense. The order was reversed and the case was remanded.
When assisting defendant and his girlfriend, whose vehicle had broken down at the side of the road, a deputy recovered drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine from defendant while doing a safety pat-down before letting the couple ride in the back seat of his patrol car. The deputy secured the evidence, handcuffed defendant, transported him to the jail, and booked him.
Defendant’s sole contention on appeal was that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence. Specifically, he asserted that the pat-down search of his person was unconstitutional because the police had no reasonable and articulable suspicion that he was involved in criminal activity or that he was armed and dangerous. The deputy and the trooper testified that defendant was not intoxicated and that they did not have any suspicion that he was or had been involved in a crime, or that he might be armed and dangerous. Instead, the trooper patted down defendant as an “officer-safety practice.” Therefore, the trooper’s pat-down search of defendant was not a constitutionally reasonable search. The case was remanded to determine whether defendant voluntarily consented to the search according to the proper legal standards, which would affirm the conviction.
Summary and full case available here.