California Constitutional Rights: Being Approached Without Probable Cause or Reasonable Suspicion Doesn’t Justify Accosting an Officer

By: Wallin & Klarich

Just because an Officer violates your Constitutional Rights doesn’t mean you can break the law. A California Appellate Court reasoned recently that if an officer approaches you without probable cause or reasonable suspicion and in violation of your Constitutional Rights, it doesn’t give you the right to accost or assault him or violate the law yourself.

In a recent decision, the Appellate court was asked to decide whether evidence of a new crime can be suppressed pursuant to a suppression motion where the new crime was not necessarily a fruit of the unlawful stop. Facts are these: an officer, based on an anonymous tip, attempts to make contact with an individual and conduct a pat down search. Said individual instead of complying with officer’s request, becomes combative, uncooperative and ends up accosting the officer. Said individual then moves the court to suppress evidence of that entire incident arguing that the officer had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to approach him in the first place, therefore anything that happened as a result of said violation of his rights should be suppressed. The court responded with a resounding- No.

The court held that, “Broadly speaking, evidence may be excluded as fruit of the poisonous tree where its discovery results from or is caused by a Fourth Amendment violation.” Exclusion is not required, however, where the evidentiary “fruit” is derived from a source that is independent of the “poisonous” conduct where “the connection between the lawless conduct of the police and the discovery of the challenged evidence” has “become so attenuated as to dissipate the taint.” In this instant, the Court held that when an intervening, independent act takes place (i.e. defendant assaults officer), the “poison” (Fourth Amendment violation) is declared purged and its evidentiary “fruit” (the new assault) is admissible. The defendant’s new criminal behavior effectively breaks the causal link between any constitutional violation and evidence of the new crime.

If you have questions about an unlawful stop or another criminal defense matter, contact the skilled San Diego criminal defense lawyers from Wallin & Klarich for a consultation at 1-888-280-6839. Also, visit us online at to learn more about your case and what can be done.

Posted In: Assault & Battery