State of Kansas, ex rel., Geary County Sheriff's Department, Appellant,
One 2008 Toyota Tundra, VIN: 5TBBV54158S517709; $84, 820.00 in U.S. Currency, more or less; and Approximately 11.9 Grams of Marijuana, Defendants, and Ryan P. Boyle, Appellee.
Although forfeiture actions are civil in nature, the
protections against unreasonable searches and seizures
guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and § 15 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of
Rights are applicable. Therefore, the constitutional
exclusionary rule applies to forfeiture proceedings.
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects
the "right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
and seizures." U.S. Const. amend IV. Section 15 of the
Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights provides the same
protection from unlawful government searches and seizures as
the Fourth Amendment.
traffic stop is a seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. For the traffic stop to be
constitutionally reasonable, the officer must know of
specific and articulable facts that create a reasonable
suspicion the seized individual is committing, has committed,
or is about to commit a crime or traffic infraction.
traffic stop seizure that is justified at its inception can
become illegal if the officer unreasonably prolongs the
duration of the stop beyond its mission. While law
enforcement does not extend the duration of a stop by asking
questions related to its purpose, questions unrelated to the
purpose of the stop are permitted so long as an officer's
inquiries into matters unrelated to the justification for the
traffic stop do not measurably extend the duration of the
routine traffic stop is a relatively brief encounter, and the
tolerable duration of police inquiries in the traffic-stop
context is determined by the seizure's
"mission"-to address the traffic violation that
warranted the stop and attend to related safety concerns.
Because addressing the infraction is the purpose of the stop,
it may last no longer than is necessary to effectuate that
purpose. Authority for the seizure thus ends when tasks tied
to the traffic infraction are-or reasonably should have
On-scene investigation into other crimes detours from the
mission of the traffic stop. So too do safety precautions
taken in order to facilitate such detours. While an officer
may conduct certain investigations unrelated to the traffic
violation, the officer may not do so in a way that prolongs
the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded
to justify detaining an individual.
time permitted to complete the mission or investigation of a
traffic violation includes precautions taken to promote
officer safety and ordinary inquiries incident to the traffic
stop. Ordinary inquiries incident to a traffic stop expressly
and typically include checking the driver's license,
determining whether there are outstanding warrants against
the driver, and inspecting the automobile's registration
and proof of insurance. These checks serve the same objective
as enforcement of the traffic code: ensuring that vehicles on
the road are operated safely and responsibly.
Because traffic stops are especially fraught with danger to
police officers, the time needed to complete the mission of
investigating the traffic infraction may require an officer
to take certain negligibly burdensome precautions in order to
complete his or her mission safely. Given this danger,
detaining a motorist for a short period so that law
enforcement may check for any outstanding warrants or
criminal history, even though the purpose of the stop had
nothing to do with such prior criminal history, may be
justified for officer safety.
Under the facts of this case, the officer's request of
dispatch to conduct a criminal history check of the driver
unreasonably prolonged the stop as the tasks associated with
the stop had been completed at the time of the request.
Moreover, any safety concerns associated with the stop no
longer existed at the time the officer's request was
from Geary District Court; Benjamin J. Sexton, judge.
Wood, special prosecutor, for appellant.
Jeremiah L. Platt, of Clark & Platt, Chtd., of Manhattan,
Powell, P.J., Standridge, J., and Stutzman, S.J.
sergeant in the Geary County Sheriff's Department stopped
a 2008 Toyota Tundra driven by Jordan Stephens, with Ryan
Boyle as a passenger, on Interstate 70 because the license
plate on the vehicle was partially obstructed. During the
stop, the sergeant's K-9 conducted a dog sniff of the
pickup truck and alerted to the presence of drugs.
Ultimately, the truck, a large amount of currency, and nearly
12 grams of marijuana were seized. The State of Kansas
brought a civil forfeiture action against the seized
property, but the district court granted Boyle's motion
to suppress this evidence after finding that the sergeant
unreasonably prolonged the stop beyond its original purpose
by requesting a criminal history check on Stephens, thus
giving the sergeant's K-9 time to perform the dog sniff.
The State now appeals the district court's granting of
the suppression motion. Because we agree with the district
court, we affirm.
and Procedural Background
March 2016, the State of Kansas on behalf of the Geary County
Sheriff's Department commenced a civil asset forfeiture
action for property allegedly seized in violation of the
Uniform Controlled Substances Act pursuant to K.S.A. 60-4101
et seq. The property subject to forfeiture includes
a 2008 Toyota Tundra pickup truck, $84, 820 in U.S. currency,
and approximately 11.9 grams of marijuana. The petition for
forfeiture filed in June 2016 gave notice to two parties whom
the State asserted may have an ownership interest in the
property: Jordan Stephens and Ryan Boyle.
weeks later, Boyle filed an answer to the State's
forfeiture petition claiming an ownership interest in the
seized truck and the $84, 820. In relevant part, Boyle
claimed the property was exempt and not subject to forfeiture
because it was unconstitutionally seized in violation of his
rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. Subsequently, Boyle filed a motion to suppress,
arguing that Geary County Sheriff's Sergeant Christopher
Ricard impermissibly extended the duration of the traffic
stop for an obstructed license plate by ordering a criminal
history check on Stephens, after Ricard's in-car computer
check confirmed that Stephens had a valid driver's
license, that he was not wanted and had no warrants against
him, and that the truck was properly insured and ...