In your reading this week, your textbook discusses Whren v. United States, concerning the legality of what has been termed a “pretext arrest”. Explain what a pretext arrest is. After reviewing the case, discuss whether you believe that an officer’s “subjective intentions” should not be considered in evaluating the “reasonableness” of an arrest and search. Finally, create a factual scenario involving a “pretext arrest” which you believe would be constitutional according to the ruling in the Whren case.As in all of your main discussion posts, be sure to support your comments with at least one APA formatted reference, adding citations to your discussion where appropriate. In this question, be sure to add the case, using the citation for it in the textbook as well.
Respond to these 5 post (1-2 Sentences)1. Ebony ChatmanHello Professor and Class,When it comes to the term pretext, the definition given for it is a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason. Basically it’s a false reason you give someone in order to hide your real intentions. So when it comes to pretext arrest, it’s obviously someone being arrested, the reason they might be arrested is to conduct an unjustifiable search and seizure. However, this is not allowed in our criminal justice system because the fourth amendment gives an individual certain rights. According to an article from FindLaw, “An arrest is found to violate the Fourth Amendment because it was not supported by probable cause or a valid warrant. Any evidence obtained through that unlawful arrest, such as a confession, will be kept out of the case.” (FindLaw). While reviewing the case of Whren Vs. The United States, I can see that the case had a justified reason for the search of the car and the arrest as well because of the traffic violation that led to the stop and the searching of the truck. Obviously, the Pretext reason for the arrest was that Whren and Brown were found to be driving in high drug territory and this led to the suspicion of the cops patrolling the area. According to an article written by Oyez, “Some plainclothes officers, while patrolling the neighborhood in an unmarked vehicle, noticed Whren and Brown sitting in a truck at an intersection stop-sign for an unusually long time. Suddenly, without signaling, Whren turned his truck and sped away. Observing this traffic violation, the officers stopped the truck. When they approached the vehicle, the officers saw Whren holding plastic bags of crack cocaine. Whren and Brown were arrested on federal drug charges.” (Oyez). This was a justified arrest as it occurred when a traffic violation happened and this led to the arrest and confiscation of drugs. Another example in which a pretextual arrest would be justified is when cops are patrolling a heavily infested area of shootings, spot a car speeding and pull them over to find the driver having possession of guns and narcotics as well.ReferencesFindLaw. “4th Amendment Search and Seizure Protections” 22nd Jan. 2019. https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-rights/search-and-seizure-and-the-fourth-amendment.htmlCriminal Procedure for Criminal Justice Professional By: Ferdico, John N. Edition: 12TH 16 Publisher: CENGAGE L“Whren v. United States.” Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1995/95-5841 Accessed 31 Jan. 2022
2. Precious BooneAn officer’s subjective motivations “play no part in Fourth Amendment analysis” and do not make otherwise lawful conduct “illegal or unconstitutional”The basis for objecting to the intentionally discriminatory application of the laws is the Equal Protection Clause rather than the Fourth Amendment. In the case Whren v. United states in1993 columbia metropolitan police department were patrolling a high drug area in a unmakred car. they come to pass a truck with temp tags on the truck the driver was looking down onto his lap of the passenger at his right. He suddenly to his right without sinalling and speed off at an unreasonable speed.police pulled him over and saw what they believe to be crack cocaine in Whern’s hands. I believe that the officer subjective intentions should not be used because the officer did not have paroable cause or even reasonable suspiscion it was not stated or been aware of in this case. yes they did say they were police officer but didn’t have the right to arrest him. pretex arrest isIn US law, a pretext usually describes false reasons that hide the true intentions or motivations for a legal action. … A “pretextual” arrest by law enforcement officers is one carried out for illegal purposes such as to conduct an unjustified search and seizure. A factual scenario Police pulling somebody over for lack of reasonable suspicion such as Sam was talking loudly to his girlfriend in the car at a stop sign and was only there for a few seconds and police pulled him over due to him being at a stop sign for to long. Saw his girlfriend crying and suggested Sam to get out of his car and arrested him.ReferencesCornell Law School. (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from Cornell Law School: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/95-5841.ZO.html3. Garrett FultonIn the case of Whren v. U.S., two officers observed a truck stopped at a stop sign for a long time. The truck then made a quick turn and sped off. One of the officers then pulled that truck over and said they were doing so because of the traffic violation of driving away at an unreasonable speed(Ferdico, 2016). Once the truck was pulled over, a baggy that was presumed to be crack was viewed by the officer, which resulted in a search of the truck. Once searched, there was more crack cocaine found in the vehicle(Ferdico, 2016). What this officer did was a pretextual stop. A pretextual stop is when an officer uses a minor offense observed as the reasoning to pull the person over. They also have an underlying suspicion that there is more than just that minor offense, so they do so to be able to see. The men arrested believed the cops did not have a right to stop them and “[…] contended that the officers used the pretense of making a traffic stop to investigate for evidence of other crimes”(Hall, 1996). In this case, they did. In my opinion, I think that the cops were not in the wrong for this. Even though it is a high drug-trafficking area, you should also not be speeding. If you were so worried about contraband in your vehicle, why would you speed off? The golden rule of being behind the wheel (criminal or not) is to not give a police officer a reason to pull you over. If for whatever reason the officers did not have some minor offense they were pursuing, then maybe it could be argued that the drugs should not be admissible.Factual Scenario:An officer is on his usual patrol shift, sitting on the side of the road about to pull off. As he is sitting there, two men sprint across a two-lane road on each side, with no crosswalk. They were also holding the sides of their coat tightly as if something were to fall out while running. Rarely do people get in legal trouble for j walking, but on a busy road like this running across it endangers cars as well. The officer decides to get out of his vehicle and approach them about the j walking and to see if he could figure out what they were holding. When he approaches them and says they should not be j walking, a bag of white powder coincidentally fell out of one of the guys’ pockets. It was cocaine. If not for approaching them on a j walking violation, he would not have seen the dropped baggy of cocaine.
References:Ferdico, J.N., Fradella, H.F., & Totten, C.D. (2016). Criminal Procedure for the Criminal Justice Professional (12 th Ed.).Hall, J.C. (1996). Pretext traffic stops: Whren v. United States. Pretext Traffic Stops: Whren v. United States | Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/pretext-traffic-stops-whren-v-united-states
4. Melany HelmerPlainclothes officers were patrolling a high drug area, where they notice Whren and Brown driving through. They witness the two sitting at an intersection stop sign for an unusual amount of time, when suddenly and without signaling, When abruptly makes a turn and speeds off. Observing this violation, the officers stopped his vehicle, approached and notice Whren holding plastic bags filled with Cocaine. Whren and Brown we’re then arrested on federal drug charges but moved to suppress evidence before the trial saying the the officers used the traffic violation as a pretext since they lacked either reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop them for drug dealing. Although it was denied by the Ditrict Court and they were convicted, the Supreme Court grant certiorari.A pretext arrest is made for a minor violation/offense with the intention of trying to investigate those involved for a more serious crime of which there originally is/was no lawful way to make an arrest. I believe the way the officers handled this situation was fair. Of course, in an area with heavy drug traffic, Whren and Brown had already made themselves look suspicious due to their unusually time stopped at a stop sign then then speeding off and not signaling. As an officer, I would’ve also believe that they were doing something wrong. The violation gave them a chance to check on that thought and they were correct.So, I think my own experience counts. I was just driving around with a friend. He was going through a rough time and getting divorced, so I drove around while we just talked. I live in a small town and the town over is just as small. I don’t go there much, so naturally a large, loud, blacked out truck is suspicious enough in a town where everybody knows everybody and recognizes an outsider. We were deep in conversation and I unfortunately was not paying attention and entered a one way, the wrong way. The cop pulled me over for doing that. I tried explaining that honestly wasn’t paying attention but he didn’t believe. He made us both get out of my truck as he thought we were doing or dealing drugs. I don’t even have a ticket on my record and I would never ruin my life with drugs. But, I could obviously see why the cop thought we were doing something wrong and how he used the violation to see if something worse was going on.Although, I’m not happy about my experience, I understand why the cop pulled me over and why he assumed something worse could potentially be happening. I think this is a fair way to help eliminate or hinder further, serious crimes.ReferencesWhren v. United States. Oyez. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1995/95-5841
5. Shannon HarveyWhren v. United States focused on a traffic stop performed by officers with the pretextual point of a traffic violation and resulted in the arrest of the occupants of the vehicle for drug possession (Scalia, 1996). The occupants of the vehicle argued that the search of the vehicle was unlawful under the Fourth Amendment because the original reasoning for their stop was traffic-related (Scalia, 1996). Therefore, they believed that their arrest and prosecution for drug possession is invalid.A pretext arrest is an arrest as a result of a stop/search that pertained to something different than the initial stop and/or search (Ferdico et al., 2016). Essentially, the individual or individuals were stopped for a reason different than the one they were arrested for. Additionally, the original reason for being stopped and/or searched must adhere to the applicable levels of proof (Ferdico et al., 2016). According to the Fourth Amendment, the level of proof needed for any stop/search is reasonable suspicion. IF probable cause of another crime results from the pretextual stop made with articulate reasonable suspicion, it is deem a lawful arrest. In the case of Whren v. United States, the officers had probable cause to assume that a crime was committed when the vehicle operator failed to use their traffic signal. However, they had reasonable, articulate suspicion to suspect there may have been other crimes being committed due to their prolonged stop and the stop sign and suspicious behavior.In my opinion, I do not believe that an officer’s “subjective intentions” should be considered when evaluating the reasonability of an arrest. Mainly, this is because individual opinions differ. As a sworn police officer, they should be almost hyper aware of these both conscious and unconscious opinions, being able to sustain from acting on them, especially within a professional capacity. The only time I believe subjective intentions should come into play is if the officer has had a history of pretextual stops that involve only specific ethnicities or the like. This is to discern if there are any patterns in pretextual stops that could be due to a prejudice on the part of the officer.For example, say you are driving under the influence. You end up going 50 in a 25 and drive past an officer. The officer then pulls you over, smells alcohol, and proceeds to do a sobriety test, of which you fail. You are then arrested and subsequently prosecuted for driving under the influence. The arrest for driving under the influence and resulting charge is legal under the Fourth Amendment. The officer did not initially suspect you of being under the influence. The pretextual traffic stop was due to excessive speeding. However, the smell of alcohol and failed sobriety test now present probable cause that you were under the influence, allowing them to legally arrest you for driving under the influence, even though that was not the reasoning for the original stop.ReferencesFerdico, J. N., Fradella, H. F., & Totten, C. D. (2016). Criminal Procedure for the Criminal Justice Professional. Cengage Learning.Scalia. (1996). Whren et al. v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/95-5841.ZO.html
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