Seven Minutes is Not So Long

In California v. Christopher Esparza, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that a seven-minute detention during a traffic stop was reasonable. Christopher Esparza was subjected to a traffic stop. A detective recognized him and his passengers as gang members, so the detective detained and searched them, finding loaded guns. Mr. Esparza contested the constitutional validity of his detention and search, arguing: (1) the officers lacked reasonable suspicion that he was armed and dangerous when they conducted his patdown; and (2) his detention was unreasonably prolonged because it lasted longer than necessary for the officers to issue him a ticket. The Court of Appeal found the detention of approximately seven minutes was reasonable because, “The totality of the circumstances known to the initial investigating officer justified those concerns, which were only heightened as additional factors came to light during the course of the traffic stop.”