January 16, 2018
2018 CO 2. No. 17SA159. People v. Fields; No. 17SA176. People v. Reed.
Contact-Short-of-a-Stop—Reasonable Articulable Suspicion—Probable Cause—Inevitable Discovery.
The People brought interlocutory appeals, as authorized by CRS § 16-12-102(2) and C.A.R. 4.1, from the district court’s orders suppressing contraband and statements in the related prosecutions of defendants Fields and Reed. The district court found that the initial contact with both defendants in a parked car constituted an investigatory stop for which the police lacked reasonable articulable suspicion, and it suppressed all evidence acquired after the point of initial contact as the fruit of an unlawful stop.
The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s suppression orders and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court held that the district court failed to appreciate that the officers’ initial contact with defendants fell short of a stop. By the point at which the contact progressed to a seizure within the contemplation of the Fourth Amendment, the officers had acquired the requisite reasonable articulable suspicion, and subsequently probable cause, to justify their investigative conduct, or inevitably would have lawfully arrested defendants and discovered the contraband.