In a recent Arizona drug crime decision, a woman appealed her conviction for possession of dangerous drugs. The case arose in 2014, when a Tempe officer initiated a traffic stop of a car driven by the defendant. He’d seen a traffic violation. While stopping her, he saw her moving inside the car, leaning forward, and then moving in her seat. Her arm went behind her back such that he became suspicious there was a weapon or contraband in the car.
The officer completed a check of records. He came back to speak to the defendant and her passenger. The defendant explained that she’d been moving in order to find her keys so that the officer wouldn’t think the car was stolen. She explained her ignition was messed up, and the key had broken inside it. The officer asked for police assistance after determining he would ask the defendant and her passenger to leave the vehicle in order to perform a canine sniff or consensual search. He saw the defendant pick something up and move it while waiting for backup.
Another officer came. The first officer approached the car again, and this time he saw that the defendant had her purse on her lap and a multi-tool. He also noticed she had cut her thumb. She explained she had the multi-tool because she wanted to ensure she could start her car.