Sunday, November 17, 2013

United States v. Muhammad case brief

United States v. Muhammad case brief summary
204 Fed.Appx. 236 (2006)

Arguing that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia erred in denying his motion to suppress, defendant appealed his conviction for felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 922(g)(1).

While on a routine patrol, a police officer observed defendant sitting in an idle car on a private street that was restricted only to residents of a housing development and authorized guests. Defendant and the other occupant of the car looked at the officer as she drove by them. The officer circled around a cul-de-sac, pulled up behind defendant's vehicle, and activated the emergency lights on top of the police vehicle.


  • On appeal, the court determined that defendant was seized for purposes of the Fourth Amendment when the officer activated the emergency lights and pulled behind defendant's car because the officer's show of authority would have given a reasonable person the impression that he was not free to leave. 
  • The court held that the officer lacked the reasonable suspicion necessary to seize defendant because evidence showing that defendant was sitting in an idle car on a private street did not provide a basis for a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. 
  • Because the seizure violated the Fourth Amendment, the district court erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the seizure.

The court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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