Saturday, November 14, 2015

Drinking and walking is not necessarily a crime

Donald R. Snapp won in State v. Crane, No. 112,494 (Kan. App. Oct. 23, 2015)(unpublished), obtaining a suppression order in a McPherson County drug prosecution. Mr. Crane was arrested for crossing the street as a pedestrian under the influence. The COA held that Mr. Crane was not illegally crossing a neighborhood street and that officers' brief encounter with him on another street did not establish probable cause of a violation of K.S.A. 8-1543, which states: "A pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree which renders such pedestrian a hazard shall not walk or be upon a highway except on a sidewalk."

The COA first held that, contrary to the district court's holding, Mr. Crane could not have been violating other pedestrian laws (like failing to cross at a crosswalk). Finally, the COA observed that simply consuming alcohol does not equate with being a hazard:
While it is clear from the record Crane had consumed alcohol, what is not clear is that he was intoxicated and a hazard in crossing the street to his friend's house. He crossed the street in a legal fashion, he had successfully crossed one street before the officers moved in to arrest him, he was able to walk and communicate successfully, and there were no cars approaching from either direction before or after Crane crossed the street. When the totality of the circumstances is considered, no objectively reasonable police officer would have had probable cause to arrest Crane for being a pedestrian under the influence. All evidence of criminal wrongdoing obtained after Crane's unlawful
seizure was therefore tainted.
[Update: the state did not file a PR and the mandate issued on December 28, 2015.]

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