In the case of Huertas v. United States, the defendant is requesting that the United States Supreme Court grant certiorari in his case, to address the issue of when an individual can be seized for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment. In order to trigger a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, the person must be seized under the law. For example, a person is not automatically seized any time there is interaction with the police. A court will look at the circumstances of the encounter and attempt to determine if a reasonable person would not feel free to leave. Cases involving flight from the police raise interesting Fourth Amendment issues.
The Branden case was a gun charge. In gun crimes, often the police will receive anonymous tips that are frequently uncorroborated that a person has a gun. In the Branden case, the defendant initially spoke to the officer. The defendant submitted to the officer’s show of authority for between 30 and 60 seconds. When the officer got out of his car, the defendant ran and discarded a gun while running from the officer.
By temporarily complying with the officer’s show of authority, the defendant argued that he was seized under the Fourth Amendment. The defendant argued that since the defendant was seized, the seizure was unlawful because it was not supported by reasonable suspicion.
The defendant requested that the United States Supreme Court address the issue of whether temporary compliance with an officer’s authority can result in a seizure. Some of the federal appellate courts have held that if the person only temporary complies the person is not seized under the Fourth Amendment. Since there is a split of authority among the courts on this issue, the defendant sought review of the United States Supreme Court.
This issue should be addressed by the United States Supreme Court. Under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, the Massachusetts Courts would likely find the defendant seized under a circumstance like the one presented.
If you are charged with a Massachusetts gun crime, such as possession of a Firearm without an FID card, call Attorney DelSignore to assist with your case. He will visit a client in jail prior to being hired and explain the defenses to the case both to the defendant, and if it is agreeable with the defendant, to their family as well. You can read the filing from the Huertas case on the Scotus Blog.