US v Clark 3rd CIR (30AUG2018)

US v Clark 3rd CIR (30AUG2018)

The defendant was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for three traffic violations. After the LEO obtained all the information needed for the traffic violations, he conducted an inquiry of the driver and then sifted focus of the investigation to the passenger (Clark) and started to question him. When the stories didn’t match, the officers told the defendant to turn around because they were going to pat him down at which point the defendant told them he had a gun in his waistband.  The LEOs found a firearm and marijuana on the defendant. The Third Circuit held that the traffic stop was impermissibly extended when the LEOs questioned the driver about his criminal history after they had all the information needed to conclude the purpose of the stop (traffic infractions). Accordingly, the court excluded the evidence found on the defendant (firearm and marijuana) as “fruit of the poisonous tree.”

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