response to a legitimate inquiry that was aimed at securing the trooper's safety. While the trooper was still investigating his suspicion that defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol, defendant reiterated that the trooper had defendant's consent to search the vehicle. In contrast, the Court in Banks found that under the circumstances in that case consent was obtained well after the officer had concluded his investigation concerning the initial reason for the stop. In the instant case, however, defendant Belgrove appears to have provided valid consent during a legitimate period of detention.
The Court of Appeals' decision in Banks is distinguishable for another reason. In Banks, the officer sought the defendant's consent based only on the defendant's nervous state and inconsistent answers to the officer's questions. The Court found that those facts alone were insufficient "as a matter of law [to] provide a basis for reasonable suspicion of criminality." Banks, 85 N.Y.2d at 563, 626 N.Y.S.2d at 988 (citing Milaski, 62 N.Y.2d at 156). In reaching its decision, the Banks Court relied to a great extent upon the Supreme Court's opinions in United States v. Sharpe, 470 U.S. 675, 105 S. Ct. 1568, 84 L. Ed. 2d 605 (1985), and Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 103 S. Ct. 1319, 75 L. Ed. 2d 229 (1983) (plurality opinion). The Supreme Court's decision in the latter case is particularly instructive. In Royer, several police officers at an airport suspected the defendant of carrying drugs based on the fact that the defendant was travelling under an assumed name, payed cash for a one-way ticket, on defendant's mode of checking his luggage, and because of his general appearance and conduct. Royer, 460 U.S. at 503, 103 S. Ct. at 1326. The Supreme Court concluded that these facts "were adequate grounds for suspecting [the defendant] of carrying drugs and for temporarily detaining him and his luggage while they attempted to verify or dispel their suspicions in a manner that did not exceed the limits of an investigative detention." Id. As the Supreme Court in Royer so aptly stated, there is no "litmus-paper test for distinguishing a consensual encounter from a seizure or for determining when a seizure exceeds the bounds of an investigative stop." Royer, 460 U.S. at 507, 103 S. Ct. at 1329.
In the case at bar, the court concludes that Tpr. Rodriquez had a valid basis upon which to continue the investigatory detention beyond the investigation of the alcohol-related offense and to conduct a search. The trooper's decision to detain defendant was based on a number of factors that went beyond the observations of defendant's nervousness and inconsistent answers to questions. In particular, unlike the facts presented in Banks, the trooper considered defendant's peculiar, unsolicited offer to search the vehicle, his refusal to obey the order to remain seated, and his attempt to communicate with the passenger. Perhaps more important is that it was necessary to further detain defendant in order to conduct the search to which defendant had just consented. In essence, defendant's consent to search the vehicle disposed of the necessity for further justification to detain him for the purposes of conducting the search. Schneckloth, 412 U.S. at 220, 93 S. Ct. at 2043-44.
The evidence is sufficient to justify the investigatory detention of defendant Belgrove, and it shows that the detention lasted no longer than was necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop. Tpr. Rodriquez was also reacting to circumstances that were rapidly evolving, and his actions were reasonably circumscribed and aimed at confirming or dispelling his suspicions in a brief period of time. See Hooper, 935 F.2d at 497 ("Law enforcement officers must be permitted the flexibility to adapt to the circumstances at hand."). Based on the foregoing, the court finds that the trooper had a sufficient basis to detain defendant to conduct a field sobriety test, and to continue the detention to conduct the search of the trunk based on defendant's consent.
Considering the totality of the circumstances, the court concludes that the scope of Tpr. Rodriquez's detention of defendant was lawful. Because the consent was obtained during a lawful detention, suppression of the evidence is not required.
II. Scope of Search Was Reasonable
The court must also determine whether Tpr. Rodriquez exceeded the scope of the search to which defendant Belgrove consented. In particular, the court must determine whether defendant consented to a search of the trunk, and if so, whether that consent could have been reasonably construed to include a search of the jackets found within the trunk.
The "standard for measuring the scope of a suspect's consent under the Fourth Amendment is that of 'objective' reasonableness-- what would the typical reasonable person have understood by the exchange between the officer and the suspect?" Snow, 44 F.3d 133, 135 (2d Cir. 1995) (quoting Florida v. Jimeno, 500 U.S. 248, 251, 111 S. Ct. 1801, 1803-04, 114 L. Ed. 2d 297 (1991)). The court first notes, as the findings of fact above show, that defendant consented to the search of the trunk, as well as the passenger compartment of the vehicle itself. Defendant Belgrove first gave permission to conduct a search when he told Tpr. Rodriquez "you can check the car" while pointing at the vehicle. Significantly, defendant did not place any limitation, either by words or conduct, on the area to which he consented to be searched. Snow, 44 F.3d at 135. Under the circumstances, it was reasonable for the trooper to believe that he had permission to search the trunk. Even if that belief was not reasonable, defendant gave his consent to search the vehicle on two subsequent occasions, and explicitly authorized a search of the trunk on one of those occasions. In light of the findings with regard to the voluntary nature of defendant's consent, the court concludes that defendant Belgrove voluntarily gave the trooper permission to search the trunk of the vehicle, as well as the passenger compartment. The court turns to the issue whether the authorization to search the trunk extended to the jackets located within the trunk.
The Second Circuit concluded in Snow that "an individual who consents to a search of his car should reasonably expect that readily-opened containers discovered inside the car will be opened and examined." Snow, 44 F.3d at 135-36. In Snow, the Court held that the defendant's consent to search his vehicle extended to the closed bags found in the vehicle's passenger compartment. Id. In addition, the validity of the scope of the search of a vehicle, including the trunk and objects contained therein, does not depend on whether the law enforcement officer informed the suspect of the purpose of the search. As the Second Circuit explained:
That the defendant did not -- and probably could not -- know what the officer was looking for does not change our view of his consent. It is self-evident that a police officer seeking general permission to search a vehicle is looking for evidence of illegal activity. It is just as obvious that such evidence might be hidden in closed containers. If the consent to search is entirely open-ended, a reasonable person would have no cause to believe that the search will be limited in some way.
Snow, 44 F.3d at 135.
Other circuits likewise have concluded that an individual who provides consent to search his vehicle should reasonably expect that the consent extends to closed containers inside the vehicle, even when the officer does not disclose the purpose of the search. See United States v. Crain, 33 F.3d 480, 483-85 (5th Cir. 1994); United States v. Zapata, 18 F.3d 971, 973-74, 977-78 (1st Cir. 1994).
The Second Circuit's decision in Snow is controlling in the case at bar. When defendant Belgrove gave his permission to search the vehicle's trunk, he should have reasonably expected that the jackets discovered inside the trunk would be opened and examined. See Snow, 44 F.3d at 135-36. Defendant's consent was entirely open-ended, and there is no evidence that he limited the search in any manner. Id. at 135 ("If the consent to search is entirely open-ended, a reasonable person would have no probable cause to believe that the search will be limited in some way."). Therefore, given the general permission to search the vehicle, and the specific permission to search the trunk, it was reasonable for Tpr. Rodriquez to search those areas, including the jackets located therein, for evidence of illegal activity. Additionally, the jackets were readily apparent to an observer, and the pockets could be readily opened by a person conducting the search. Id. at 135 (search was of unlocked, unsecured duffel bag, and access to bag was possible without causing any damage). Based on the foregoing, the court concludes that Tpr. Rodriquez did not exceed the legitimate scope of the search of defendant Belgrove's vehicle by searching the jackets contained in the trunk.
In summary, defendant Belgrove's motion to suppress physical evidence is DENIED.
It is so Ordered.
Dated: April 10, 1996
Syracuse, New York
HOWARD G. MUNSON
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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