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12/10/75 PEOPLE v. DORNER

December 10, 1975

PEOPLE
v.
DORNER



Appeal from Presque Isle, Philip J. Glennie, J.

Danhof, P. J., and McGregor and N. J. Kaufman, JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. -- Evidence -- Observation by Police Officer.

A police officer's observation of a large box of goods located on the rear seat of a defendant's automobile was proper where the officer had legally stopped the defendant's automobile for a traffic violation and thus clearly had a right to be near the defendant's automobile, and the uncontradicted testimony of the officer was that he observed the box as he walked by the vehicle prior to entering it to check the turn signals and brakes.

2. -- Evidence -- Observation by Police Officer -- Probable Cause -- Sufficient Cause.

The mere observation by a police officer of a large box and its contents in the rear seat of a defendant's automobile does not, without more, provide the officer with sufficient cause to believe that the defendant committed a crime or to believe that the goods are the fruits of a crime.

3. -- Questioning of Defendant -- Evidence -- Suppression of Evidence -- Miranda Warnings.

A police officer's questioning of a defendant, inquiring as to where the defendant had acquired some property located in the defendant's automobile, made before the defendant was given his Miranda rights, was proper and defendant's statements in reply should not have been suppressed where at the time the officer asked the question he had no knowledge that the goods were stolen and no knowledge of the breaking and entering in which the goods were allegedly taken.

4. -- Questioning of Defendant -- Totality of Circumstances -- Investigation -- Accusatory Stage -- Focus on Defendant -- Miranda Warnings.

A police officer properly asked a defendant, prior to giving the defendant a Miranda warning, whether he thought that some goods in the defendant's possession were stolen after the defendant had indicated to the officer where he had obtained the goods, where a review of the record indicates that under the totality of the circumstances a criminal investigation had not reached the accusatory stage nor focused on the defendant; the question was not the product of a process of interrogation aimed at soliciting incriminating statements from one upon whom an investigation had focused, and further, the defendant, who had been stopped for traffic violations, was not in custody nor substantially deprived of his freedom in any way at the time of the questioning.

5. Searches and Seizures -- Probable Cause -- Knowledge of Police Officer.

The Court of Appeals is limited to the facts, circumstances, and information known to an arresting officer at the time of the arrest and seizure when making a determination of whether the officer had probable cause to believe that a felony had been committed and that goods in the possession of the defendant were the fruits of that crime.

6. Searches and Seizures -- Arrest -- Knowledge of Police Officer -- Circumstances of Arrest.

A police officer was justified in arresting a defendant and seizing goods where the facts known to the officer and the circumstances present at the time were the lawful stop of the defendant's vehicle for a traffic violation, the lawful view of a large box and its contents on the rear seat of the defendant's automobile, and ...


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