What is reasonable cuase for a police officer to stop to question the occupants of a vehicle in the middle of the night?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from People v. Sabino, 215 Cal.App.2d 149, 30 Cal.Rptr. 110 (Cal. App. 1963):

Reasonable cuase is generally defined as a state of facts that would lead a man of ordinary care and prudence to believe and entertain an honest suspicion that a person is guilty of a crime. (People v. Ingle, 53 Cal.2d 407, 412, 2 Cal.Rptr. 14, 348 P.2d 577.)

The question of whether an officer may stop to interrogate the occupants of a vehicle is a separate issue from whether there is a right to search and arrest the occupants. (People v. King, 175 Cal.App.2d 386, 390, 346 P.2d 235.)

As stated in People v. Ellsworth, 190 Cal.App.2d 844, 846-847, 12 Cal.Rptr. 433, 435, 'The courts of this state consistently have adhered to the proposition that a police officer may question a person outdoors at night when the circumstances are such as would indicate to a reasonable man in like position that such a course is necessary to the discharge of his duties [citations], particularly when the person to be interrogated is parked in an automobile on a secluded highway * * *. [Citation.]'

[215 Cal.App.2d 153] The reasons required to permit questioning are necessarily much less than would be required to permit arrest and search. (People v. Davis, 188 Cal.App.2d 718, 722, 10 Cal.Rptr. 610.)

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