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Arizona Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal in Drug Case, Citing Suspicious Behavior as Grounds to Prolong Traffic Stop

In a recent case before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, the defendant asked the court to reconsider the trial court’s decision to deny his motion to suppress. The defendant was originally charged with transporting a narcotic drug for sale, and he filed a motion to suppress incriminating evidence that he felt a police officer unfairly obtained. On appeal, however, the higher court disagreed with the defendant and ended up affirming the lower court’s ruling.

Facts of the Case

In the opinion, the court recounted the following facts: a detective was on patrol early one morning on the interstate when he noticed a car in his vicinity drift across the white “fog line” two times. He initiated a traffic stop, and he approached the driver and his passenger, who ended up being the defendant in this case.

The detective noticed several things about the defendant. His hands were shaky, his body was trembling, and he continuously licked his lips during the conversation. Because of the detective’s 15 years of experience in the field, he suspected that the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The detective conducted a field sobriety test and, soon after, found several boxes in the car with “bulk drugs” for transport.

The Decision

After some additional investigation, the State charged the defendant with transporting a narcotic drug for sale. The defendant promptly filed a motion to suppress the drugs in the truck, and the trial court denied this motion. A jury later found the defendant guilty as charged, and the court sentenced him to eight years in prison.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the detective prolonged the traffic stop unnecessarily; that is, he kept the defendant in questioning for too long without any legal grounds to do so. The higher court considered this argument in relation to the defendant’s right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment.

Ultimately, decided the court, the detective was within his rights to prolong the traffic stop. Given the defendant’s shaky hands, trembly body, and behaviors consistent with being under the influence, the detective reasonably thought there would be grounds to investigate the situation. The court denied the defendant’s appeal, and the trial court’s order denying his motion to suppress remained in place.

Do You Need a Phoenix Drug Lawyer to Represent You in Your Legal Proceedings?

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we understand that any criminal charges are serious charges. We have decades of experience in the field, and we understand that retaining an aggressive Phoenix drug lawyer can make all the difference in getting your charges dropped. When your freedom is on the line, you want to leave nothing to chance; and at our firm, we are proud to stand by you every step of the way.

For your free and confidential consultation with an expert Phoenix drug lawyer, give us a call today at (480) 413-1499. If you prefer, you can also fill out our online “contact us” form, which will allow an attorney to get back to you as soon as possible to discuss the details of your case.


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