FIRAC Method

 Assignment 2 Short Answer While patrolling near a laundromat where a string of thefts from coin-operated washers and dryers had occurred, Officer noticed Defendant crouched facing a washer and holding a screwdriver. Officer observed Defendant look around as if to make sure no one was watching and then position the screw driver near the machine’s coin box. Based on Officer’s knowledge of the recent thefts and his observation of Defendant’s furtive movements and action with the screw driver, Officer approached Defendant to execute a “Terry stop.” When Defendant noticed Officer approaching, she ran toward a bathroom. Officer pursued Defendant into the bathroom and observed her attempt to shove a pillowcase inside a trashcan, whereupon Officer heard the sound of clinking coins. Officer commanded Defendant to exit the bathroom and stand against a wall. Defendant exited the bathroom and dropped the pillowcase into a laundry cart. As Defendant attempted to run outside, Officer subdued her and told her she was under arrest. Moments later Officer retrieved the pillowcase, looked inside, and discovered stolen coins. Defendant is now on trial for theft, and her lawyer seeks to exclude the coins. Specifically, Lawyer claims that Defendant was under arrest at the point when Officer commanded her to exit the bathroom and stand against the wall, but that Officer lacked probable cause to arrest Defendant at that point, and therefore the coins are the fruit of an unreasonable arrest. Lawyer’s second claim for excluding the coins is that Officer’s “search” of the pillowcase was unreasonable without a warrant. Taking the role of prosecutor, use the FIRAC framework to rebut each of Lawyer’s claims. Specifically, draw from the facts to counterargue that Officer’s initial observations prior to approaching Defendant created reasonable and articulable suspicion to attempt a “Terry stop.” Then, under the totality of the circumstances, the initial observations followed by Defendant’s flight into the bathroom plus Officer’s observation of Defendant’s attempt to shove the pillowcase inside a trashcan and his hearing the sound of clinking coins gave Officer probable cause to arrest Defendant before he commanded her to exit the bathroom and stand against the wall. Hence, even conceding that the arrest occurred before Officer formally said, “You’re under arrest,” the arrest was reasonable. As for Officer’s discovery of the coins, counterargue that no warrant was required to look inside the pillowcase because when Defendant dropped the pillow case into a laundry cart – apparently intending to discard evidence – it was then abandoned property. We have studied enough thus far for you to write a proper rule section and analysis beginning with the definitions of searches and seizures, explaining that since the Fourth Amendment’s protection of the right to be secure in one’s persons, houses, papers, and effects does not extend to abandoned property (Samaha, p. 90), then retrieving the pillowcase was not a seizure and looking inside was not a search. Furthermore, under the privacy doctrine (Samaha pp. 55-57), by abandoning the pillowcase Defendant exhibited no actual (subjective) expectation of privacy in it.

 

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