N.D.Ga.: PC supports arrest even if officer cites wrong statute

It doesn’t matter that the officer didn’t cite the right offense as long as the facts of probable cause support any offense. United States v. Simmons, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145562 (N.D. Ga. June 15, 2020):

Furthermore, the officers’ “[s]ubjective intentions play no role in ordinary, probable-cause Fourth Amendment analysis.” Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 813, 116 S. Ct. 1769, 135 L. Ed. 2d 89 (1996). Defendant further suggests that maybe Officer Finks’s “conduct did not satisfy Cobb County’s standards for” obstruction. (Doc. 34, at 3-4). The Supreme Court, however, has explicitly rejected the use of particular “police enforcement practices” because those “vary from place to place and from time to time,” and “the search and seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment” do not “turn upon such trivialities.” Whren, 517 U.S. at 815.

The constitutionality of Defendant’s arrest does not depend “on whether the arresting officer state[d] the reason for the detention and, if so, whether he correctly identify[d] a general class of offense for which probable cause exist[ed].” Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 154, 125 S. Ct. 588, 160 L. Ed. 2d 537 (2004). Probable cause exists whenever an officer knows of facts “sufficient to cause a person of reasonable caution to believe an offense has been or is being committed.” Blasco, 702 F.2d at 1324. This is so regardless of “the offense actually invoked at the time of arrest.” Devenpeck, 543 U.S. at 154; see also United States v. Johnson, 752 F. App’x 771, 773-75 (11th Cir. 2018), cert. denied, 139 S. Ct. 949, 203 L. Ed. 2d 137 (2019) (holding an officer’s search of the defendant’s backpack, which revealed a pistol and led to the defendant’s conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, was justified because the officer “had probable cause to arrest defendant for disorderly conduct”).

Looking objectively at the facts known to the officers at the time of Defendant’s arrest, they had sufficient reason to believe that Defendant had committed a crime. …

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