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California v. Hodari


Two officers were on patrol in a high-crime area. They discovered a group of youths huddled around a car. The youths, including the defendant, fled when they observed the approaching unmarked police car. A police officer, wearing a “raid” jacket, left the patrol car to give chase. The officer took a circuitous route that brought him in direct contact with the defendant. The defendant was looking behind as he ran and did not turn to see the officer until the officer was almost upon him, whereupon the defendant tossed away a small rock. The officer tackled him, handcuffed him, and radioed for assistance. Officers recovered the rock, which proved to be crack cocaine.


Whether the defendant was “seized” at the time he dropped the controlled substance?


No. The government had not seized the defendant until it engaged in physical contact with him.


To constitute a Fourth Amendment seizure of a person, there must be either: 1) An application of force, however slight; or

2) Submission to an officer’s “show of authority” to restrain the subject’s freedom of movement.

The defendant was not seized at the time he dropped the controlled substance. No physical force was applied to the defendant, nor did he submit to a “show of authority.” He was not seized until he was tackled.

Assuming that the officer’s pursuit constituted a “show of authority” requesting the defendant to halt, the defendant did not submit. He therefore was not seized until he was tackled.


499 U.S. 621, 111 S. Ct. 1547 (1991)

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