IN THE MATTER OF: Wake County
M.B.M. No. 03 JB 56
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney
General Gail E. Dawson, for the State.
Duncan B. McCormick, for defendant-appellant.
M.B.M. (juvenile) appeals from adjudication and disposition orders entered finding him to be guilty of misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon and adjudicating him to be delinquent. We affirm.
The State's evidence tended to show that Cary Police Officer Tiffany Selby (Officer Selby) came upon a group of juveniles at approximately 8:50 p.m. on 9 September 2006. As Officer Selby approached, the group dispersed except for one female, who remained and told Officer Selby that the rest of the juveniles were walking back to their residences. Officer Selby advised her to go home because the area would soon be saturated by other Cary Police Officers trying to catch a perpetrator who had been breaking into motor vehicles in the area.
Approximately two hours later, Officer Selby spotted the samegroup of juveniles sitting inside a silver GMC Envoy parked in front of the same house as earlier. As Officer Selby approached, the vehicle drove away. Officer Selby followed the vehicle and observed the vehicle run a stop sign, exceed the speed limit, and make a turn without signaling. Officer Selby stopped the vehicle, approached it, and asked the driver to produce his operator's license. The driver handed her an identification card and told her that his license had been suspended. Officer Selby arrested the driver for operating a vehicle without a valid driver's license and obtained the driver's permission to search the vehicle.
Cary Police Detective Matthew Pearson (Detective Pearson) and two other officers arrived to assist in the search. Detective Pearson asked the occupants to exit the vehicle. Detective Pearson recognized one of the occupants as juvenile, with whom he had prior dealings. Detective Pearson asked juvenile for permission to pat him down for weapons. Juvenile consented and Detective Pearson found a box cutter inside juvenile's pocket.
On 15 September 2006, juvenile petitions were filed alleging juvenile was carrying a concealed weapon and that he had provided a false home address to Detective Pearson. On 28 November 2006, juvenile moved to suppress evidence obtained during the search of the vehicle at the traffic stop. On 30 November 2006, juvenile's motion was denied and the trial court adjudicated juvenile delinquent and found him to be guilty of misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon. The trial court imposed a sentence of fourteen days confinement to a detention center and supervised probation forsix months. Juvenile appeals.
Juvenile argues the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence seized as a result of the traffic stop.
Juvenile contends the law enforcement officers did not have a sufficient reasonable suspicion to detain and search him following a routine traffic stop of the vehicle in which he was a passenger. We disagree.
Juvenile argues: (1) the officers did not have any reason to believe that he had been engaged in criminal activity; (2) his detention and search was not related to the traffic violation; and (3) the officers did not have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that he was armed and dangerous. Juvenile does not contest the legality of the stop of the vehicle, but argues that the officers did not have sufficient reasonable suspicion to detain and search him, as a passenger in the vehicle, following the routine traffic stop.
Article I, Section 20 of the North Carolina Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protect against unreasonable searches and seizures. State v. McClendon, 350 N.C. 630, 636, 517 S.E.2d 128, 132 (1999). A law enforcement officer may make a brief investigative stop of a vehicle if he is led to do so by specific, articulable facts giving rise to a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. State v. Watkins, 337 N.C. 437, 441, 446 S.E.2d 67, 70 (1994). The temporary detentionof a motorist upon probable cause to believe that he has violated a traffic law is not inconsistent with the prohibition against unreasonable seizures, even if a reasonable officer would not have stopped the motorist for the violation. State v. McRae, 154 N.C. App. 624, 628, 573 S.E.2d 214, 218 (2002).
An officer who has lawfully detained a vehicle based upon probable cause to believe that a traffic law has been violated may constitutionally order the driver to exit the vehicle. State v. McGirt, 122 N.C. App. 237, 239, 468 S.E.2d 833, 834-35 (1996), aff'd per curiam, 345 N.C. 624, 481 S.E.2d 288 (1997). The officer may also order passengers to exit the vehicle in order to conduct a search of the driver's car, even when probable cause or reasonable suspicion concerning the passengers is lacking. State v. Pulliam, 139 N.C. App. 437, 440-41, 533 S.E.2d 280, 283 (2000).
A pat-down safety search of the passengers for weapons may be conducted if the officer has a reasonable suspicion based upon articulable facts under the circumstances that the passengers are armed and dangerous. Id. at 441, 533 S.E.2d at 283. An officer may search an individual at anytime with the person's consent. State v. Graham, 149 N.C. App. 215, 218, 562 S.E.2d 286, 288 (2002), disc. rev. denied and appeal dismissed, 356 N.C. 685, 578 S.E.2d 315 (2003).
In denying the motion to suppress, the trial court concluded that the officers properly stopped the vehicle and properly conducted a consent search for weapons. Juvenile neither contends in his brief that he did not consent to the search nor that he didnot give valid consent. Even if a claim could be made that he did not validly consent, the evidence shows that Detective Pearson had a reasonable and articulable suspicion for conducting a pat-down search for weapons. Based upon his prior dealings with juvenile, Detective Pearson knew that juvenile belonged to a gang, normally carried a weapon, and juvenile had a prior record of assaultive behavior. This assignment of error is overruled.
We hold the trial court properly denied juvenile's motion to suppress. The trial court's orders are affirmed.
Judges GEER and STEPHENS concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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