Ohio v. Robinette Case Brief
Summary of Ohio v. Robinette, United States Supreme Court, 1996
Statement of the Case:
Ticketed motorist, Robinette, is seeking to suppress marijuana and a methamphetamine found in his car when he was pulled over, technically freed to leave, but consented to a police search of his car, claiming that he would not have if he knew he could have declined.
Trial court allowed the evidence into court, but the Ohio Appellate and Supreme courts reversed for the D. They created a bright-line rule that “Any attempt at consensual interrogation must be preceded by the phrase ‘At this time, you are free to go.’”
Robinette was stopped for speeding in a construction zone, ticketed, technically freed to leave, but consented to a police search of his car, claiming that he would not have if he knew he could have declined. The officer asked, “Before you go, can I search the car.”
Whether the 4th Amendment requires that a lawfully seized D be advised that he is “free to go” before his consent to search will be recognized as voluntary.
Judgment reversed for the State.
The 4th Amendment does not require that a lawfully seized D be advised that he is “free to go” before his consent to search will be recognized as voluntary, as the voluntariness should be based on the totality of the circumstances.
- Whren stated that an officer’s state of mind is not important in searching, just that he objectively does not violate the 4th Amendment. Subjective intentions are not important.
- There was probable cause to make the stop.
- Reasonable searches do not violate the 4th Amendment, and reasonableness is based on the totality of the circumstances.
- Knowledge of the right o refuse consent is only one factor in showing voluntariness, and the government does not necessarily need to show this knowledge.
- 4th Amendment Test that Consent be Voluntary: “Voluntariness is a question of fact to be determined from the totality of the circumstances.”
- The Ohio courts are free to create this higher standard for reasonableness in their own state, but they need to specifically write that it only applies in Ohio.
- The real problem is that the ? was not lawfully detained anymore, so whether it was a continued detention needs to be addressed by the court.
- The lawful traffic stop had ended, and this it was unreasonable to not tell Robinette that he could have left.
But what about Miranda rights???