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Major Lesson Plan: United States Supreme Court Update 2

Jack Ryan

Target Audience: Law Enforcement personnel who may be faced with decisions that are impacted by the law from the United States Supreme Court.

Objective: Provide officers with training on new legal standards announced by the United States Supreme Court.

Format: Roll-call/ supervisory training.

Time: Five to ten minutes for each of the hypothetical sections, but this may be expanded where agency resources allow


Law Enforcement Risk Management Legal Update, July/August 2004.

State Statute covering Investigative stops and/or statute on identification.

Hypothetical #1:

The Anytown Police Department received a 911 call of a possible domestic assault in progress. The caller, a lifeguard stated that a man at the Town Beach had just slapped a female that was sharing his blanket.

Officer Manson responded and located the man as described. Officer Manson further observed a female sitting on the blanket whose face was red and blotchy.

Question 1:

Does Officer Manson have the required reasonable suspicion to stop the man and investigate further?


Yes, Officer Manson has received information, through dispatch, from an identified complainant, the lifeguard, and has corroborated that information based on the description of the man and the blotchy spots (consistent with an assault) on the females face. In addition the man and woman are at the location described by the complainant which is further corroboration of the information.

Question 2:

Can Officer Manson ask the man to identify himself?


Yes, in accordance with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hiibel v. Nevada, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4385 (2004), an officer may ask a person to identify themselves during a lawful “Terry-Stop.”

Question 3:

If the man refuses to identify himself, can Officer Manson arrest him?


This will depend on whether there is a state statute that requires a person to identify themselves during an investigative stop. If there is such a statute and the person fails to identify themselves, an arrest for obstruction of a police officer in his/her official duty is constitutionally sound.

Question 4:

If the man had reported to Officer Manson that his name was Harry Gashat, could Officer Manson demand that Harry show him credible and reliable identification and arrest him if he failed to produce the identification?


No, the United States Supreme Court has specifically rejected this type of requirement and distinguished such a requirement from Nevada’s statute in the Hiibel case.

Hypothetical #2:

On a warm summer evening, Officer Manzo was dispatched to a loud party call involving underage drinkers at 211 Cocoa Lane. While enroute Officer Manzo observed a vehicle, two-cars ahead of him, and further observed that the occupants were smoking what appeared to be marijuana. Manzo also detected the odor of marijuana filling the air in the line of traffic. Before Manzo could pull the car over, the vehicle pulled up in front of the party on Cocoa Lane and its occupants got out of the vehicle. As the occupants walked up to house at 211 Cocoa Lane, Officer Manzo arrested them for possession of marijuana. On a search incident to arrest of their persons, he found more marijuana on each of them. Manzo placed the arrestees in his police car.

Question 1:

Can officer Manzo proceed to search the vehicle from which the arrestees had just alighted from?


Yes, under the search incident arrest rules, Officer Manzo may search the passenger compartment of the vehicle. In accord with Thornton v. United States, 124 S.Ct. 2127 (2004), officers may conduct a search incident to arrest of a vehicle where an arrestee was a “recent occupant” of the vehicle.

Hypothetical #3:

While arresting the marijuana smokers, Officer Manzo observed several young people, standing in the street, watching the activity. He further observed that these young people, [under legal age], were drinking beer. After securing the marijuana smokers, Officer Manzo arrested several underage drinkers who were out on the public street observing the activity and drinking beer. Moments later, a neighbor approached Manzo and informed him that several of the arrested drinkers had parked their automobiles a short distance down the street when the party had started several hours earlier.

Question 1

Can Manzo go and search the vehicles [incident to arrest] belonging to his arrestees when the vehicles had been parked and unattended for several hours before the arrest.

Answer :

No, it is unlikely that any court would consider the underage drinking arrestees to be “recent occupants” of the vehicles since the neighbor made clear that the vehicles had been parked for several hours. In addition, Officer Manzo never observed his arrestees near or connected to any vehicles.

Hypothetical #4:

While on routine patrol, Officer Manson monitored a broadcast of an armed-robbery. The suspect was described as a white male, approximately 30 years of age, carrying a sawed-off shotgun and wearing a white fedora hat. Manson began to patrol the area looking for the suspect when he observed Harry Gashat strolling down the street and fitting the robbery description. Manson also noted that Gashat was only a short distance from the scene of the robbery. Manson stopped Gashat and frisked him. No gun was located. The owner of the store that had been robbed responded to Manson’s location and positively identified Gashat as the robber. Manson placed Gashat under arrest.

In an effort to establish his skill with department superiors, Manson decided that he should obtain a confession from Gashat. At the police station, without informing Gashat of his Miranda warnings, Manson began questioning Gashat until he confessed to the robbery. Manson then read Gashat his Miranda warnings and had him repeat the confession. Manson’s “question first” tactic had been taught to him by a veteran officer in his department.

Question 1:

Will the prosecutor be able to use Gashat’s second, Mirandized confession in the prosecution of Gashat for robbery.


No, in Missouri v. Seibert, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4578 (2004), the United States Supreme Court, by plurality opinion, ruled that the “question first tactic” would invalidate any subsequent Mirandized statement for use in the prosecution’s case.

Hypothetical #5:

Using the basic facts from hypothetical #4 but changing the portion related to the questioning as follows:

While transporting Gashat to the station, Manson, an inexperienced officer, stated out loud: “What were you thinking of Gashat, robbing a store in broad daylight?” Gashat responded: “Yeah, I gotta be nuts!” At the station, Gashat is Mirandized by a detective and confesses to the robbery.


Can Gashat’s Mirandized, second statement, be used against him in the robbery prosecution?


In all likelihood yes. In the Seibert, case the plurality as well as the remaining justices all suggested that an unintentional violation of Miranda would not invalidate a subsequent properly Mirandized statement. This is consistent with the Court’s 1985 ruling in Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298 (1985).

Hypothetical #6

Applying the facts of Hypothetical #4 including the violation of Miranda; suppose that when Manson initially questioned Gashat, Gashat told Manson where he had hidden the sawed-off shotgun used in the robbery. This led to the seizure of the shotgun which, by some stroke of luck, was covered with Gashat’s fingerprints.


Can the sawed-off shotgun, which was found and seized as the direct result of a Miranda violation, be used against Gashat in a criminal prosecution for robbery.


Yes, in Unites States v. Patane, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4577 (2004), the United States Supreme Court held that the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine has no application to the 5th Amendment and Miranda violations. The Court noted that the 5th Amendment, unlike the 4th Amendment, has its own built in exclusionary rule, in that a person cannot be forced to give testimonial evidence which is incriminating against themselves. This type of testimonial, self-incriminating evidence is automatically excluded under the 5th Amendment anytime the government acts outside the parameters of the 5th Amendment. Physical evidence, on the other hand is non-testimonial in nature and can be used when seized as the result of a Miranda violation as long as the suspect’s statement that led to the recovery of the physical evidence was otherwise voluntary.

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