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Torres v. State

Supreme Court of Nevada

January 29, 2015

RALPH TORRES, Appellant,
v.
THE STATE OF NEVADA, Respondent

As Corrected March 12, 2015.

Page 653

Appeal from a judgment of conviction, pursuant to a guilty plea, of ex-felon in possession of a firearm. Fourth Judicial District Court, Elko County; Nancy L. Porter, Judge.

Frederick B. Lee, Jr., Public Defender, and Alina M. Kilpatrick, Deputy Public Defender, Elko County, for Appellant.

Adam Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Mark Torvinen, District Attorney, and Mark S. Mills, Deputy District Attorney, Elko County, for Respondent.

Hardesty, C.J. We concur: Parraguirre, J., Cherry, J., Gibbons, J., Douglas, J., Saitta, J., Pickering, J.

OPINION

Page 654

BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.

HARDESTY,C. J.;

In this appeal, we determine whether the discovery of a valid arrest warrant purges the taint from the illegal seizure of a pedestrian, such that the evidence obtained during a search incident to the arrest is admissible. We conclude that the officer's continued detention of Ralph Torres, after he dispelled any suspicion that Torres was committing a crime, constituted an illegal seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the fruits of that illegal seizure should have been suppressed. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of conviction.

FACTS

In February 2008, Officer Shelley observed a smaller male wearing a sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head sway and stagger as he walked over a bridge in Etko, Nevada. Officer Shelley thought that the man might be intoxicated and too young to be out past curfew. He then parked his patrol car in a store parking lot at the end of the bridge and addressed Torres as he walked in that direction. Officer Shelley told

Torres that he stopped him because he was concerned that Torres was too young to be out after curfew and that it appeared he had been drinking. He asked Torres for identification. Torres gave Officer Shelley his California identification card (ID card), which revealed that Torres was over the age of 21, and thus, old enough to be out past curfew and consuming alcohol. After reading Torres's ID card, Officer Shelley retained the ID card as he recited Torres's information to police dispatch for verification and to check for outstanding arrest warrants. According to Officer Shelley, it is his standard practice to verify the identification information of every person he encounters because police officers are often given fake identification cards that contain inaccurate information. However, nothing in Officer Shelley's testimony indicated that anything about Torres's ID card seemed fake or inaccurate. Although Officer Shelley could not remember when he handed Torres his ID card back after reciting the information to dispatch, he stated that it is also his standard practice to keep an identification card in his possession until after he gets a response from dispatch.

Within five minutes of transmitting Torres's information to dispatch, Officer Shelley was informed that Torres had two outstanding arrest warrants from California. A second patrol officer arrived and, upon confirmation from dispatch that one of the warrants was extraditable, Officer Shelley took ...


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