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Criminal Procedure Keyed to Allen
Whren v. United States
Citation:517 U.S. 806 (1996).
Plainclothes officers were patrolling a high drug area in D.C. in an unmarked car. They passed by a dark truck with temporary license plates and young occupants stopped at a stop sign. The truck remained stopped for an unusual amount of time and when the police car executed a U-turn to head back towards the truck, the truck quickly turned without signaling and sped off down the road. The police officers followed the truck and pulled up alongside it at a red light. One of the officers exited his vehicle and approached the car, telling the driver, Brown, to put the car in park. When the officer went up to the driver’s window, he saw two large plastic bags of what appeared to be crack cocaine in the Defendant, Whren’s, hands. Brown and the Defendant were arrested and quantities of several types of illegal drugs were retrieved from the vehicle. The Defendant and Brown were charged with violating various federal drug laws. At a pretrial suppression hearing, they challenged the legality of the stop and the subsequent seizure of the drugs. They argued that the stop was not justified by probable cause or reasonable suspicion and that the officer’s ground for approaching the vehicle to give the driver a warning for a traffic violation was pretextual.
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