In a recent opinion from an Arizona court, the defendant’s appeal of his marijuana conviction was denied. The defendant had been found guilty of transporting marijuana for sale, and he made multiple arguments in his attempt to reverse this original conviction, including an argument that the incriminating evidence used against him should have been suppressed. The court, however, disagreed with the defendant’s arguments and affirmed his original verdict.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving alone in his SUV when two State Troopers pulled him over for speeding. The troopers found two bundles of marijuana in the SUV that weighed approximately 46 pounds. At first, the defendant told the troopers he knew nothing about the marijuana, saying that he had recently lent the car to a friend. Later, though, the defendant admitted that he knew about the marijuana but did not know specifically that it was in his car.
A jury trial was conducted. The jury found the defendant guilty of transportation of marijuana for sale, and he was sentenced to time in prison as a result.
The defendant made several arguments on appeal, one of which was that any incriminating evidence found during the traffic stop was inherently unconstitutional. According to the defendant, the troopers pulled him over without reason, thus the resulting search of his SUV was illegal. The defendant argued that any evidence coming from this illegal traffic stop should have been suppressed.
The court disagreed with the defendant. To arrive at this conclusion, the court looked at the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop. One factor the court considered was that one of the troopers testified that he had seen the defendant speeding by about 15 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone. Then, said the trooper, the defendant had been placed under arrest because there was an outstanding warrant for him based on conspiracy to transport marijuana. While the troopers waited for a tow truck to remove the SUV from the road, they conducted a basic search of the vehicle. Only then did the troopers discover the marijuana. Because the troopers had ample reason to pull over the defendant as well as to arrest him, the evidence found in the SUV was legally obtained.
The defendant countered this argument by testifying that he was taking great care not to speed when the troopers pulled him over. According to the defendant, the troopers followed him for about two miles while he was obeying the speed limit and staying below 65 miles per hour. Facing conflicting testimony, the court decided to believe the State Trooper instead of the defendant, concluding that there was enough evidence to support the fact that the defendant was speeding. Because the initial traffic stop was reasonable, the incriminating evidence should not have been suppressed, said the court. The defendant’s guilty verdict was thus affirmed.
Have You Been Charged with Drug Crimes in Arizona?
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