The North Carolina Court of Appeals threw out a Traffic Stop in a Heroin Case, Saying the Stop was “Unlawfully Extended.”
On May 10, 2016, the North Carolina Court of Appeals threw out the Durham conviction of Michael Bullock, saying that the traffic stop that lead to his conviction was unlawfully extended.
Bullock was pulled over by 14-year police veteran Durham Officer John McDonough for allegedly speeding 70 in a 65 and other alleged traffic infractions. The officer pulled Bullock, cited him, and then asked him to step out of the car. Bullock then consented to a search of his person, which revealed some cash, and McDonough asked for Bullock to step back to his car.
There, McDonough searched his computer and found that Bullock had previously been arrested. McDonough called for back up, and Bullock consented to a search of the car, but not the belongings in the car. McDonough called in a K-9 unit, and eventually 28 grams of heroin were found in the vehicle.
The Court of Appeals vacated Bullock’s guilty plea, saying that an officer’s stop may only last as long as “the mission” of the stop and to perform checks, which are limited to the defendant’s driver’s license, registration and insurance, and whether the stopped person has any warrants.