The United States Supreme Court has identified three categories of
police contact with persons. The first is referred to as a
"consensual encounter" in which there is no restraint on the
person's liberty. There need be no objective justification for such
an encounter. The second type, called "detention," involves a
seizure of the individual for a limited duration and for limited
purposes. A constitutionally acceptable detention can occur "if
there is an articulable suspicion that a person has committed or is
about to commit a crime." The third type involves seizures in the
nature of an arrest, which may occur only if the police have
probable cause to arrest the person for a crime. People v. Hughes
(2002) 27 Cal.4th 287 In re James D. (1987) 43 Cal.3d 903 People v.
Bailey (1985) 176 Cal.App.3d 402 Wilson v. Superior Court (1983) 34
Cal.3d 777 FLORIDA v. ROYER, 460 U.S. 491 (1983) In re Miguel G.
(1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 345
Nevertheless the violator is, during the period immediately
preceding his execution of the promise to appear, under arrest.
(People v. Weitzer (1969) 269 Cal.App.2d 274, 294 [75 Cal.Rptr.
318]; People v. Valdez (1966) 239 Cal.App.2d 459, 462 [48 Cal.Rptr.
840].) fn. 2 Some courts have been reluctant to use the term
"arrest" to describe the status of the traffic violator on the
public street waiting for the officer to write out the citation (see
People v. Nunn (1968) 264 Cal.App.2d 919, 923, fn. 4 [70 Cal.Rptr.
869]; People v. Wohlleben (1968) 261 Cal.App.2d 461, 463 [67
Cal.Rptr. 826]; People v. Nieto (1966) 247 Cal.App.2d 364, 369 [55
Cal.Rptr. 546]. The Vehicle Code however, refers to the person
awaiting citation as "the arrested person." fn. 3 Viewing the
situation functionally, the violator is being detained against his
will by a police officer, for the purpose of obtaining his
appearance in connection with a forthcoming prosecution. The
violator is not free to depart until he has satisfactorily
identified himself and has signed the written promise to appear.
People v. Hubbard, 9 Cal.App.3d 827 [Crim. No. 17355. Court of
Appeals of California, Second Appellate District, Division Four.
July 22, 1970.]
Has the police officer made an arrest at the time he activates the
If not then how do we define the period of time from the time the
red light is activated until the cop breaks out the NTA to prepare,
Consensual Encounter, Detention, or Seizure? What term has the
courts used to identify this period of time? When the red light is
activated does that constitute "contact"? When the red light is
activated are we required to stop or merely pull over to allow the
emergency vehicle pass unobstructed? Where is it written that
someone SHALL halt when they observe a red light in the mirror or be
subject to criminal prosecution, and what would be the charge,
criminal "evading"? "Evading" what????? What is the time frame
identified as between the activation of the red light and the actual
initial contact where the cop in fact says something? Has the
Legislature specified the existence of the "crime" of "evading" a
-- If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have
to worry about answers. Thomas Pynchon
If evidence of a fact is clear, positive, uncontradicted and
of such nature it cannot rationally be disbelieved, the court
must instruct that fact has been established as a matter of law.
Roberts v. Del Monte Properties Co., 111 CA2d. 69 (1952).
They will do whatever we let them get away with.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however
improbable, must be the truth. [Sir Arthur Conan Doyle]