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Michigan v. Chesternut


Officers, riding in a marked car, observed the defendant standing on a street corner. When he saw the police car approaching, the defendant began to run. The officers followed him, driving next to him as he ran. While they drove alongside, the officers did not activate their siren or flashing lights, order the defendant to stop, display any weapons, or use the vehicle to try to block the defendant’s path. As the officers observed him, the defendant threw a number of small packets. One of the officers retrieved the packets and identified the contents as a controlled substance. The defendant was arrested and a search of his person revealed other drugs and a hypodermic needle.


Whether the government pursuit of the defendant was a “seizure” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment?


No. The officers neither applied force nor demonstrated authority to the defendant.


The test for determining when a person is “seized” under the Fourth Amendment is whether, “in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave.” Here, there was no evidence the government attempted to impinge the defendant’s ability to leave. “While the very presence of a police car driving parallel to a running pedestrian could be somewhat intimidating, this kind of police presence does not, standing alone, constitute a seizure.” In sum, the police conduct in this case would not have communicated to a reasonable person an attempt to capture or otherwise intrude upon the defendant’s freedom of movement. No “seizure” occurred.


486 U.S. 567, 108 S. Ct. 1975 (1988

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