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Wallace v. State

December 14, 2009

SHANE CODY WALLACE, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable Michael N. Deegan, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hill, Justice.

Before VOIGT, C. J., and GOLDEN, HILL, KITE, and BURKE, JJ.

[¶1]Shane Cody Wallace appeals the district court's finding that a deputy did not lack reasonable suspicion to detain him and his vehicle for a dog sniff. Arguing only under the United States Constitution, Wallace contends that the deputy impermissibly expanded the scope of an otherwise lawful stop by requesting the narcotic detection dog. We affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Wallace states the single issue as follows:

Mr. Wallace's Fourth Amendment Rights were violated when law enforcement extended a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion.

The State posits the issue this way:

Thirteen minutes is not an unreasonable amount of time to write two traffic tickets.

FACTS

[¶3] On March 31, 2008, just before midnight, Campbell County Deputy Sheriff Stinson observed that Wallace's vehicle had a broken taillight, and subsequently stopped the vehicle. As he walked to the vehicle, Deputy Stinson also noticed that Wallace's rear window was obscured by snow.

[¶4] The deputy contacted Wallace, who was "in a hurry to receive his ticket and leave." In fact, Wallace requested that he be issued a ticket quickly so that he could be on his way. After requesting the appropriate documents, Deputy Stinson returned to his car, contacted dispatch, and learned that both Wallace and his passenger had prior drug contacts. Based on those circumstances, the deputy contacted his colleague, Deputy Spencer, and requested he bring his drug dog to the scene. At that point, Deputy Stinson began writing Wallace a citation for the obscured rear window and a warning ticket for the broken taillight.

[¶5] While Deputy Stinson wrote the citations, Deputy Spencer arrived with his drug dog. Approximately seventeen minutes into the stop, the drug dog alerted during an exterior sniff of Wallace's vehicle. A subsequent pat down search of Wallace produced marijuana.

[¶6] After being taken into custody, Wallace was charged with one count of possession of marijuana and subsequently filed a motion to suppress. The district court denied the motion, finding that the deputy had reasonable suspicion to detain Wallace. The court listed two circumstances of reasonable suspicion upon which the deputy relied: 1) both occupants of the vehicle had histories of drug contacts, and 2) the driver of the vehicle appeared unnaturally anxious and/or nervous to receive his ticket(s) and be on his way.

[ΒΆ7] Wallace entered a conditional guilty plea to the possession charge. The district court sentenced him to two to four years, suspended in favor of five years of ...


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