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Annie Ashton

Case 7-5 Fourth Amendment


Dr. Speronis
2/19/15
Annie Ashton
Arizona v. Johnson
129 S.Ct. 781 (2009)
Facts
Lemon Montrea Johnson was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over by
three Arizona police officers, Officer Maria Trevizo and Detectives Machado
and Gittings, in an area known to have a Crips gang. The vehicles
registration was under suspension due to an insurance-related violation,
which the officers became aware of after running the license plate. Upon
approaching the vehicle, Officer Trevizo noticed Johnson wearing a blue
bandana, consistent with a Crips gang member. After Officer Trevizo
questioned Johnson, he volunteered information such as his name and that
he was served time in prison for burglary and had been out of prison for over
a year. Officer Trevizo noticed a police scanner in Johnsons jacket pocket,
consistent with criminal behavior of a person trying to evade the police.
When asked to step out of the vehicle, Officer Trevizo began to pat down
Johnson where she felt the butt of a gun located near Johnsons waist.
Johnson began to struggle and Officer Trevizo placed him in handcuffs.
Johnson was then charged with possession of a weapon by a prohibited
possessor.
Issue

The issue is whether Johnsons Fourth Amendment Rights from


unreasonable searches and seizures were violated. The vehicle was pulled
over due to a suspended registration, but when the occupants were
questioned, Johnson was removed from the vehicle, frisked, a weapon was
found, and Johnson was charged with possession of a weapon by a prohibited
possessor.
Rule of Law
The rule of law pertaining to this case is a violation of Johnsons Fourth
Amendment right due to illegal search and seizure. A motion to suppress
evidence was made due to an unlawful search. According to Arizona law, 133102 misconduct involving weapons (azleg.state.az.us, 2015), A person
commits misconduct involving weapons by knowingly:
1. Carrying a deadly weapon except a pocket knife concealed on his person
or within his immediate control in or on a means of transportation.
Under Fourth Amendment rights, probable cause must be present in
order to conduct a search. The officers, once it was revealed that the cars
registration was under suspension, made a lawful stop of the vehicle and its
occupants. Stop and frisk according to uslegal.com (uslegal.com, 2015), is
when police temporarily detain somebody and pat down their outer clothing
when there are specific articulable facts leading a reasonable police officer to
believe a person is armed and dangerous. It is not necessary for the officer
to articulate or identify a specific crime they think is being committed, only

that a set of factual circumstances exist that would lead a reasonable officer
to have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring.
Application
The application of law is that upon the traffic stop, Officer Trevizo
believed that there was reasonable cause to remove Johnson from the
vehicle to ask further questions. Given that Johnson had a police scanner
hidden in his jacket and what citizens used the devices for, and that he was a
convicted criminal just recently out of prison, she was within the law to frisk
Johnson after he exited the vehicle. Upon discovery of the concealed
weapon, Johnson began to struggle, and Officer Trevizo then cuffed him. A
charge of charge of possession of a weapon by a prohibited possessor was
lawful.
Conclusion
Johnson was convicted of possession of a weapon by a prohibited
possessor. An Arizona Court of Appeals panel reversed the decision. It
recognized that Johnson was lawfully seized when the vehicle was stopped,
but the court nevertheless concluded that prior to the frisk the detention had
"evolved into a separate, consensual encounter stemming from an unrelated
investigation by Trevizo of Johnson's possible gang affiliation," id., at 64, 170
P.3d, at 673. Absent "reason to believe Johnson was involved in criminal
activity," the Arizona appeals court held, Trevizo "had no right to pat him
down for weapons, even if she had reason to suspect he was armed and
dangerous."

Opinion
I agree with the initial judgment against Johnson, but disagree with the
reversed decision by the Court of Appeals. Given that Johnson had a prior
conviction of burglary, his association with a known local gang and that he
was carrying a device used to evade police to conduct illegal activities, I
believe Officer Trevizo was conducting herself in a manner to protect the
citizens of her jurisdiction.
Works Cited

(2015). Retrieved from azleg.state.az.us:


http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/13/03102.htm
(2015). Retrieved from uslegal.com: http://definitions.uslegal.com/s/stop-and-frisk/