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People v. Caballes

November 20, 2003


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kilbride


Docket No. 91547-Agenda 17-January 2002.

Defendant, Roy I. Caballes, challenges the procedures used by police during a routine traffic stop. Defendant unsuccessfully attempted to suppress evidence of marijuana found in the trunk of his car after an alert by a drug-detection dog and was subsequently convicted of one count of cannabis trafficking (720 ILCS 550/5.1(a) (West 1998)). The appellate court affirmed the conviction, finding that reasonable articulable suspicion was not needed to conduct a canine sniff and that defendant was unjustifiably detained by the police for only a de minimis period of time. We reverse and hold that the trial court should have granted defendant's motion to suppress based on the unjustified expansion of the scope of the stop. See People v. Cox, 202 Ill. 2d 462 (2002).


On November 12, 1998, Illinois State Police Trooper Daniel Gillette stopped defendant on Interstate Route 80 in La Salle County for driving 71 miles per hour in a zone with a posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour. Trooper Gillette radioed the police dispatcher that he was making the traffic stop. On hearing Gillette's radio transmission reporting the stop, Trooper Craig Graham of the Illinois State Police Drug Interdiction Team announced to the dispatcher he was going to meet Gillette to conduct a canine sniff. Gillette, however, did not request Graham's assistance.

Gillette approached defendant's car, informed him that he was speeding, and asked for his driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Defendant complied with Gillette's requests. Gillette testified that while at defendant's car he noticed an atlas on the front seat, an open ashtray, the smell of air freshener, and two suits hanging in the back seat without any other visible luggage.

Gillette then instructed defendant to reposition his car on the shoulder of the road so the two vehicles would be out of traffic and to come back to the squad car because it was raining. Defendant complied, and Gillette told defendant he was only going to write a warning ticket for speeding. Gillette then called the police dispatcher to ascertain the validity of defendant's license and to check for outstanding warrants.

While waiting for the results of the license check, Gillette asked defendant where he was going and why he was "dressed up." Defendant replied that he was moving from Las Vegas to Chicago. He was accustomed to being dressed up because he was a salesman, although he was not currently employed. Gillette testified that defendant continued to act nervous even after being told he was receiving only a warning ticket. Gillette considered defendant's continued nervousness unusual.

Dispatch informed Gillette that defendant had surrendered a valid Illinois license to Nevada, but the validity of his Nevada license was not confirmed for two more minutes. After receiving that confirmation, Gillette requested defendant's criminal history. He then asked defendant for permission to search his vehicle, and defendant refused to give consent.

Gillette next asked defendant if he had ever been arrested, and defendant responded that he had not. The dispatcher subsequently reported that defendant had two prior arrests for distribution of marijuana, and Gillette began to write the warning ticket. He was interrupted by another officer calling him over the radio on an unrelated matter. Gillette testified he was still writing the warning ticket when Trooper Graham arrived with his drug-detection dog and began walking around defendant's car. The dog alerted at defendant's trunk in less than a minute. After Graham advised him of the alert, Gillette searched defendant's trunk and found marijuana.

Defendant was then arrested and taken to the police station, where he signed the warning ticket. He was subsequently charged with one count of cannabis trafficking (720 ILCS 550/5.1(a) (West 1998)).

Defendant filed a motion to suppress the drugs found in the trunk and to quash the arrest. The trial court denied the motion and found defendant guilty after a bench trial. Defendant was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay a street value fine of $256,136.

Defendant appealed, and the appellate court affirmed, finding that the police did not need reasonable articulable suspicion to justify the canine sniff and that, although the criminal history check improperly extended defendant's detention, the delay was de minimis. No. 3-99-0932 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule ...

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