Appeal From Michigan District Court Reviews Investigatory Stops In Robinson v. Howes

A recent case out of Wayne County examined just what actions may constitute a “reasonable suspicion” and may justify police making an investigatory stop.

In Robinson v. Howes, the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit examined the actions of two Wayne County Deputy Sheriff’s who were involved in the arrest of a Highland Park, Michigan man. At issue is whether the deputy sheriff’s had enough reasonable information to stop the man and make an investigatory stop. Whether police have the right to stop you and perform an investigation is crucial and is a critical determination in many criminal law cases.

Where police or other law enforcement detain you in violation of your 4th amendment rights to be free of “unlawful searches and seizures,” any evidence collected pursuant to this violation may be thrown out. In numerous situations, this may lead to charges being reduced or even completely dismissed. As a result, if you’ve been detained pursuant to a criminal investigation it is important to speak to an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney to determine whether the stop was proper and whether your 4th amendment rights or any other constitutional rights were violated.

In fact, the U.S. Constitution has a tremendous impact on criminal law enforcement at all levels. These rights extend to all citizens and include the right to counsel, the right to due process, the right to a jury trial, the privilege against self-incrimination and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. If you have been charged with a crime, including weapons possession, drunk driving, drug crimes, or theft and property crimes, consulting with a top Michigan criminal defense attorney immediately can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Here in Robinson, two deputies testified that they were dispatched to the scene after receiving a radio report of “shots fired from a yellow vehicle.” When the police arrived, one of the officers approached the vehicle and the suspect stated “he had done nothing wrong,” got out of his car and started to walk away. After he left, one officer testified that he noticed a handgun on the front seat. He yelled to the other officer who then tried to grab the suspect. The two officers then struggled with the petitioner, then pepper-sprayed him and placed him under arrest. The petitioner disputed the police officer’s version of events and asserted that the investigation and ensuing arrest violated his Fourth Amendment rights, in part because the stop was based on uncorroborated information from an anonymous caller.


In evaluating whether the police conduct constituted a violation of petitioner’s 4th Amendment, the Michigan court first evaluated if the officer’s actions constituted a “seizure” that must be justified by a “reasonable suspicion.” The court determined that petitioner was “unquestionable seized” the moment he was grabbed by the police. Further, the court assumed the police officer’s version of events was true and characterized petitioner’s walking away from the car as “evasive action.” Based on Michigan criminal law and federal law, police officers may conduct an investigatory stop if he has a “reasonable, articulable suspicion that the person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity.” The combination of the evasive action along with a reasonably reliable “anonymous tip” provided sufficient justification for the stop.

While in this case sufficient cause was found for the stop, it is important to challenge the police conduct in making stops. Law enforcement overstepping its boundaries and violating an individual’s rights may serve as a complete defense to a Michigan criminal offense.

For more information or if you have been charged with any Michigan crime, contact an aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer at Grabel & Associates for a free, immediate consultation.