Sometimes the black letter law passed by the legislature is unclear. The legislature can’t anticipate every possible fact scenario when they pass a law, so it lay to the courts to interpret the law and give guidance to what it means. This interpretation is called case law. When the court decides a certain meeting to the law it essentially answers a legal question. Lawyers and other courts then can rely on that ruling when they have a similar issue in their case. The following case answers the question above.
State v. Ingram, 2005, 113 P.3d 228, 279 Kan. 745
This case addresses the following issue:
Does a stabbing qualify as aggravated battery?
In this case Wilson Termaine Ingram II was arrested following an incident, in Manhattan, in which Matthew Siebrandt was stabbed in the groin. When police officers found Ingram, they handcuffed him and searched his pockets, finding three rocks of crack cocaine and marijuana. Id. at 746. He was convicted on aggravated battery, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and failure to affix tax stamp. Defendant subsequently appealed the convictions.
On the night of the incident, law enforcement was notified by dispatch that a black male wearing at Hawaiian shirt and dark jean shorts had been involved in a stabbing. Id. An officer saw an individual matching that description running between two homes, initiated a stop, and ordered the individual to the ground. Id. at 747. The individual turned out to be the defendant in this case. At the time of the stop the officer believed Ingram had been involved in the stabbing and instructed another officer to search his pockets. During that search several rocks of cocaine and some marijuana was found. Id. The officers involved each testified that they felt they had probable cause to believe that Ingram had committed the stabbing and thus searched him for their safety. Id.
Ingram argues that the evidence should have been suppressed because, although it would have been discovered during the security search at the Center, he had not been arrested, and the police cannot search a suspect who simply has been brought into a secure facility for questioning. Id. at 750. Ingram argues in the alternative that even if he had been arrested, no probable cause existed to support it. Accordingly, the drugs could not have been found by lawful means and the inevitable discovery doctrine would not apply. Id. “The State responds that had the drugs not been found at the scene, Ingram would have been subject to arrest for the aggravated battery based upon probable cause, and that the corrections staff would have found the drugs at the Center during the security search.” Id.
Under Kansas law, a law enforcement officer can make a warrantless arrest when he or she “has probable cause to believe that the person is committing or has committed a felony. K.S.A.2003 Supp. 22–2401.” Ramirez, 278 Kan. at 405, 100 P.3d 94. Id. at 752. There the court observed:
“Probable cause is the reasonable belief that a specific crime has been committed and that the defendant committed the crime. Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the arresting officers’ knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed.” Ramirez, 278 Kan. at 405, 100 P.3d 94. (quoting State v. Abbott, 277 Kan. 161, Syl. ¶ ¶ 2–3, 83 P.3d 794 ).
“A stabbing can qualify, among other things, as the felony crime of aggravated battery under K.S.A. 21–3414.” Id. at 753.
The Court paraphrased Ramirez, by holding that the totality of the circumstances within the law enforcement officers’ knowledge was sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution in the belief that the felony offense of aggravated battery had been committed by Ingram. Id. Because we conclude that there was probable cause to arrest, any security search that was done at the Center was lawful. The State has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the drugs found by Officer Bertrand at the scene would have been inevitably discovered by corrections officers at the Center. Id. The defendant’s convictions were affirmed.