The Appellate Group

State v. Bui-Cornethan

State v. Bui-Cornethan, 2021 UT App 56 (Pohlman, J.)


After receiving a tip, two officers separated and questioned Bui and his friend about their possible involvement in criminal activity. The officer who questioned Bui did not believe he had reasonable suspicion to conduct a search, but ninety seconds after the conclusion of the first officer’s questioning ended, a second officer approached Bui and asked if he had any weapons. Bui eventually told the officer he did have a gun, which the officer found upon searching him. The district court concluded the Fourth Amendment was not implicated because the officer’s search of Bui was part of a voluntary encounter and also that the officers ultimately had reasonable suspicion to search him. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed, finding:

  • The district court erred when it concluded that the search was part of a level one encounter because the officers’ conduct during the interaction amounted to a show of authority. Additionally, the district court erred in concluding that the officers had reasonable suspicion to search Bui because the second officer’s questions unreasonably extended the detention beyond the time at which the first officer had already determined he no longer had reasonable suspicion to detain Bui.

Read the full court opinion