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People v. Staple

January 15, 2004

[5] THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
COUNTY-DUPREE STAPLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



[6] Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign No. 01CM1019 Honorable Michael Q. Jones, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Myerscough

[8]  On February 1, 2002, the trial court found defendant, Dupree Staple, guilty of possession of more than 2.5 but less than 10 grams of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(b) (West 2000)) and sentenced defendant to 21 days in jail plus costs and fees. Defendant filed a posttrial motion, which the trial court denied. Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress, (2) he did not knowingly waive in open court his right to a jury trial, (3) he is entitled to a $15 credit against his fines, and (4) the trial court erred in ordering him to pay a $15 "anticrime" fine. We reverse.

[9]  I. BACKGROUND

[10]   In August 2001, the State charged defendant by information with unlawful possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(b) (West 2000)), alleging he knowingly and unlawfully possessed more than 2.5 grams, but not more than 10 grams, of a substance containing cannabis. On November 26, 2001, defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence, alleging that at the time of the detention, he was not observed in the commission of a crime, nor did the police have probable cause to believe that he had committed a crime. Defendant also alleged that he was detained and searched without exigent circumstances, without a warrant, and without consent, and, therefore, such detention and search were illegal.

[11]   On November 29, 2001, the trial court held a hearing on defendant's motion. Because the parties are familiar with the evidence presented, we will summarize it only to the extent necessary for a complete understanding of our disposition. In August 2001, defendant's brother was driving his automobile. Defendant was the front-seat passenger, and another person was the backseat passenger. Officer Robert Benschneider stopped the vehicle after observing no visible license plates or registration. Benschneider asked everyone in the car for their identification, which they produced. Benschneider returned to his squad car to run a criminal check on their driver's licenses.

[12]   Benschneider discovered that the driver had a suspended driver's license and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Benschneider radioed for another officer to assist with the stop. When the officer arrived, the driver was arrested, handcuffed, and placed in the squad car. Benschneider then reapproached the car and told defendant that "his brother was under arrest. And we would be searching the car and everyone in it." Prior to searching defendant, Benschneider asked defendant if he had any weapons or contraband on his person. Defendant stated that he had a bottle of Crown Royal in his pocket. Benschneider removed the bottle from defendant's pant's pocket. Benschneider then conducted a pat down of defendant's clothing and a frisk of his crotch area where he found a "hard lump[-]like [sic] in the seat of his pants. *** It felt like a round object. I could feel plastic around it." Benschneider testified that the purpose of the pat down was to make sure that no one had any weapons in the car before the police searched the car.

[13]   Upon questioning by the trial court, Benschneider testified that his standard "speech is to tell everyone since someone was arrested[,] out of the car[,] we're going to search the car and everyone in it." The following colloquy transpired:

[14]   "Q. [THE COURT:] The question I've got is, tell me why you think you've got authority to search everybody else just because you know the driver's suspended and has a DOC warrant?

[15]   A. [BENSCHNEIDER:] Well, we have a search incident to arrest in the vehicle--

[16]   Q. Uh-huh?

[17]   A. --so we're going to secure the vehicle.

[18]   Q. How about the passengers, though? I know you can search [the] arrestee incident to the arrest and his vehicle. Do you think that you can also search any passengers?

[19]   A. Yes.

[20]   Q. Okay. ...


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