Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Notable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994 » United States v. Sokolow - Significance, A Brief And Unusual Trip, A Successful Police Operation, An Invasion Of Privacy

United States v. Sokolow - An Invasion Of Privacy

court evidence dea agents

Sokolow was indicted for intent to distribute cocaine, and filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained against him by the DEA in the U.S. District Court for Hawaii. The district court denied Sokolow's motion, ruling that DEA agents had "reasonable suspicion" that he was involved in drug trafficking when they stopped him outside the Honolulu airport. Sokolow then appealed for the suppression of the DEA's evidence to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and entered a conditional guilty plea in his criminal trial. The court of appeals reversed the district court's ruling, holding that DEA agents did not have sufficient evidence to justify detaining Sokolow and searching his possessions. In reaching this verdict the court applied a two-pronged test for determining validity of evidence leading to reasonable suspicion on the part of the authorities: evidence of ongoing criminal activity, such as the use of an alias and evasive behavior around law enforcement personnel; and personal characteristics "shared by drug couriers and the public at large." The court of appeals found that evidence of the former type should carry far more weight than the latter, and in this case, that DEA agents had relied more on Sokolow's behavior, such as the paying of cash for his tickets and his nervousness, than on his use of an alias or any other evidence. The U.S. Supreme Court than granted certiorari to review the case, given its obvious implications for the investigation of trafficking in illegal drugs, and heard arguments on 3 April 1989.

United States v. Sokolow - Reasonable Suspicion And Probable Cause [next] [back] United States v. Sokolow - A Successful Police Operation

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