People v. Maikhio

Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence, a spiny lobster, obtained by a game warden on the ground that the warden had engaged in an unconstitutional search and seizure in stopping defendant's car a few blocks from a pier where the warden had observed, through a spotting telescope, defendant fishing with a handline. At issue was whether a game warden, who reasonably believed that a person had recently been fishing or hunting, but lacked reasonable suspicion that the person had violated an applicable fish or game statute or regulation, could stop a vehicle in which the person was riding to demand that the person display all fish or game the person had caught or taken. The court held that when, as in this case, the vehicle stop was made reasonably close in time and location to the fishing or hunting activity, the encroachment upon an angler's or hunter's reasonable expectation of privacy resulting from a brief vehicle stop and demand was nonetheless rather modest, and no more intrusive than other actions by game wardens that have been upheld in past California cases. In weighing the special need of the state to stop persons who choose to fish or hunt in the state and to demand such persons display all fish or game that had been taken against the intrusion upon such persons' reasonable expectation of privacy entailed by such a stop and demand, the court held that the vehicle stop and demand at issue constituted a reasonable procedure under the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals upholding the suppression of evidence obtained by the game warden and subsequent dismissal of the charges against defendant.