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Warrant for arrest was reasonable suspicion to stop

City of Pewaukee v. John Jay Kennedy, 2016AP2383, 5/17/17, District II (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

An officer stopped Kennedy’s vehicle after running the plates and seeing that its registered owner, Kennedy, had a warrant out for his arrest.  Kennedy was driving, and was eventually arrested for OWI.

On appeal, Kennedy argues only that the officer should have “confirmed” the validity of the warrant before pulling him over (the officer testified that he double-checked to make sure the warrant was active (it was), but only after he stopped the vehicle).

The court of appeals, noting that reasonable suspicion is a “low standard,” finds it met here:

Kennedy argues that Becker had to confirm the validity of the warrant before stopping him, but reasonable suspicion does not require absolute certainty. Becker was not required to double-check or, as he testified, “confirm” that the warrant was valid. It was reasonable for him to rely on the DOT records he accessed from his squad car computer. SeeUnited States v. Stephens, 350 F.3d 778, 780 (8th Cir. 2003); see also Arizona v. Evans, 514 U.S. 1, 3-4 (1995) (declining to suppress evidence under exclusionary rule where officer reasonably relied on an erroneous police record indicating that there was an outstanding arrest warrant for the defendant). Kennedy’s entire argument is premised on the suggestion that the DOT records Becker accessed from his squad car were unreliable, but he offers absolutely nothing to suggest that is the case. Indeed, Becker’s confirmation of the outstanding warrant after the traffic stop indicates otherwise. Therefore, the circuit court properly denied Kennedy’s motion to suppress the evidence recovered from the stop of his vehicle.


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