People v. Reid

APPELLATE DIVISION
FIRST DEPARTMENT
Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal

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Justice David Saxe

Reid's car was pulled over by police due to erratic driving and traffic law violations. Officer Merino saw plastic cups in its center console. Reid's eyes were watery, his clothes dishevelled, and the car smelled of alcohol. Complying with Merino's request to exit the car, Reid denied having weapons "that he could hurt himself with or [Merino]." Merino patted Reid down, recovering a knife. Despite not planning to arrest Reid prior to the search, Merino arrested him after finding the knife. Affirming conviction to third-degree weapon possession, First Department found Merino had probable cause to arrest Reid for driving while intoxicated, such that the patdown of Reid was permissible, and the knife discovered as a result thereof was admissible. Under the rule stated in People v. Rodriguez and Devenpeck v. Alford, even if police are incorrect in their assessment of the particular crime that gives them grounds to conduct the search, or if they incorrectly assess the level of police activity that is justified by their knowledge, where the facts create probable cause to arrest, a search must be permissible. Merino's search of Reid was permissible because when conducted, probable cause existed to arrest Reid for driving while intoxicated.

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