Appeals Court (May 15, 2008)
The police had adequate grounds to conduct an investigatory stop and probable cause to arrest without a warrant, when the facts indicated that a completed misdemeanor crime occurred.
The defendant appealed his conviction for multiple firearm and drug charges, arguing that the warrantless stop was improper, because he had committed a misdemeanor that had been completed. The defendant was stopped eighteen hours after firing shots in a public place. Witnesses provided police with the defendant's name, address and specific details about his automobile. The following evening, after some investigatory work, the police stopped the defendant while in his auto. The defendant appeared nervous, and he repeatedly looked to the passenger side floor. The police observed a gun sticking out from under the passenger seat, and a check revealed that the defendant did not have a gun permit. The defendant was arrested, and an inventory search revealed marijuana and crack cocaine.
The court found that the police had probable cause to arrest without a warrant, because the defendant was implicated in a shooting, he was in possession of a gun, and he fled the scene. The court also found that the police had sufficient grounds to conduct an investigatory stop, despite the passage of eighteen hours, because the defendant was implicated in the shooting incident (the completed misdemeanor of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling).
Though the crime involved is a misdemeanor, it involved a threat to public safety, and the passage of time does not diminish the public safety concern and the public interest in solving the crime and apprehending the suspect.