THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF DANVILLE Joseph W. Milam,
Smallwood, II, Deputy Public Defender, for appellant.
W. Stallard, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring,
Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Chief Judge Huff, Judges Chafin and Decker Argued by
GRAFF DECKER JUDGE.
Finique Hairston appeals his convictions for possession of
cocaine and possession of a cannabimimetic agent, both with
the intent to distribute, in violation of Code §
18.2-248, as well as for driving on a suspended license,
third or subsequent offense, in violation of Code §
46.2-301. He contends that the circuit court erred by denying
his motion to suppress. As the basis for his claim, the
appellant argues that the stop of the vehicle he was driving
and the seizure of his person were unreasonable because any
basis for conducting the stop had grown stale. We hold that
the stop and seizure of the appellant were supported by
probable cause, which had not grown stale during the three
hours that passed after the law enforcement officer observed
him driving recklessly in violation of the law. Consequently,
we hold that the court's denial of the motion to suppress
was correct, and we affirm the challenged convictions.
March 7, 2015, between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m., Detective Karen
Fraser of the City of Danville Police Department was driving
on a two-lane road through adjacent Pittsylvania County on
her way to begin her shift in Danville at 2:45 p.m. A white
Camaro traveling in the same direction passed her vehicle
"in a curve on the double [solid-yellow] line[s]."
Fraser recognized the car from "dealing with it in the
city." As she continued to watch, the Camaro passed a
second vehicle and then a third one in a similar fashion,
each time crossing the double solid-yellow lines and
"veer[ing] into the left lane of oncoming traffic."
The third of these traffic violations occurred within a mile
of the Danville city limits. Additionally, the Camaro was
"traveling at a high rate of speed" as it drove
toward the city.
Fraser continued to follow the car as it entered the city
limits. She did so because she "planned on taking
warrants out on the person for reckless driving" and
needed "to know who the driver was." When the
Camaro stopped at a traffic light, she photographed its
license plate. Fraser then pulled into the lane adjacent to
the Camaro's right side, and while the cars were three to
five feet apart, she photographed the driver. Additionally,
the driver lowered the front passenger window, giving her an
unobstructed view of his face. The driver, who was alone in
the car, was not the person she knew to be its owner, and she
did not recognize him. After he made some comments to her,
while still stopped at the traffic light, she told him that
she was a police officer. Fraser added that "as soon as
[she] found out who he was[, ] . . . [she] would be trying to
obtain a warrant on him for the way he was driving."
Fraser arrived at the police precinct to begin her shift, she
showed the photographs to other officers and described the
man by race and hairstyle. None of the officers were able to
identify him. Fraser asked them to look for the Camaro while
on duty that night because she "wanted to try to obtain
the driver's information."
about 5:00 p.m. that evening, while Detective Fraser was on
patrol with Officer L.D. Land, he pointed out a white Camaro
and asked Fraser if it was the car she had seen earlier.
Fraser positively identified the car and determined that its
driver was the same person she had seen driving in a reckless
manner earlier that day. She also looked at the photographs
she had taken and confirmed that the license plate number
told Land to stop the car so that she could identify the
driver. The Camaro pulled into a convenience store, and Land
parked behind it. Officer Land approached the driver, who was
the appellant. Detective Fraser went to the
passenger's side and recognized the passenger as the
owner of the vehicle.
as Land made contact with the appellant, before the officers
had identified the appellant by name, Land detected the odor
of burned marijuana. The officers ordered the occupants out
of the car and searched it. They found a large quantity of
cocaine and synthetic marijuana, as well as various packaging
materials and other paraphernalia.
appellant was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent
to distribute and possession of a cannabimimetic agent with
the intent to distribute. He was later indicted for those
offenses, as well as for driving on a suspended license,
third or ...