Articles Posted in Search and Seizure

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In a recent opinion from an Arizona court, the defendant unsuccessfully argued that his motion to suppress incriminating evidence was unfairly denied. At trial, the defendant had been found guilty of transportation of a narcotic drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. On appeal, he argued that the original traffic stop leading to his charges was unreasonable and that it was an infringement on his privacy rights. The court disagreed, affirming the defendant’s convictions and sentence.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was pulled over in December 2019 when he was driving on the highway. Originally, the police officer who pulled the defendant over noticed his car because the defendant made an “odd gesture” and because the officer noticed an object in the windshield. After a few minutes, the defendant began driving through a dirt parking lot, over a curb, and into the parking lot of a nearby casino. Suspicious, the officer followed the defendant into the casino, approached him, and said he was conducting an investigatory stop for improper material on his windshield.

The officer checked the defendant’s license and registration, which led him to the realization that the defendant’s license was suspended. The officer called back up to the scene, including a unit of dogs to help him investigate. One dog sniffed the air around the defendant’s truck and led the officer to three packages of fentanyl. The defendant was indicted, and he moved to suppress the evidence from the traffic stop. The trial court denied his motion to suppress.

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In a recent opinion from an Arizona court, the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating evidence was denied. After having been found guilty of illegally possessing firearms, the defendant argued in his appeal that the state trooper who stopped him and found his gun had no right to pull him over in the first place. The court disagreed, saying that because the defendant had extensively violated traffic laws, there was ample reason for the trooper to conduct the traffic stop that eventually led to the trooper finding incriminating evidence.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an Arizona State Trooper pulled the defendant over for failing to remain within a traffic lane. Approaching the vehicle, the officer asked the defendant if he had any weapons in the vehicle; the defendant denied having any firearms in his car, but the officer immediately saw and seized an AR-15 pistol from near the front driver’s seat. At the time of the traffic stop, the defendant was prohibited from possessing weapons as a condition of his felony probation. His fingerprint was later found on the pistol.

At trial, the government found the defendant guilty of possessing a firearm while being a prohibited possessor and of failing to accurately answer the trooper’s questions regarding a concealed firearm.

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The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution grant persons accused of crimes the right to remain silent in the face of police questioning. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda vs. Arizona has defined this constitutional right by requiring police to give an in-custody suspect Miranda warnings before questioning them about alleged criminal activity. Miranda warnings instruct suspects that they do not need to answer any police questions and that any responses they give can be used as evidence against them if they face criminal charges. The law concerning a suspect’s Miranda rights is not always cut and dry, however, and statements given after a valid Miranda warning still may be inadmissible under some circumstances. The Arizona Court of Appeals recently ruled on an appeal filed by a defendant who alleged that statements he made to police after he was given his Miranda warnings should not have been admitted at his attempted murder trial.

The defendant from the recently decided appeal was stopped by police for his alleged involvement in a shootout with police that had occurred earlier in the day of his arrest. The defendant was injured with a gunshot wound at the time of his arrest and he was taken to the hospital for treatment under police supervision. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant engaged in “small talk” with the police officers while he was at the hospital before he was given any Miranda warnings, and he made incriminating statements.

After the defendant’s condition was stabilized and he was released from the hospital, he was placed under arrest for attempted murder. After his arrest, the defendant was questioned by another officer, who read him his Miranda rights. During this second round of questioning, the defendant made more incriminating statements. At trial, the defiant challenged the admission of both rounds of statements. The trial court suppressed the first round of statements but admitted the second round because the defendant had been read his Miranda rights before making them. A jury ultimately convicted the defendant of attempted murder.

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In a unanimous decision coming from the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court held that a police officer’s pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanor suspect does not always qualify as an exigent or demanding circumstance that would otherwise justify a police officer’s warrantless entry into a home. This decision strengthens Fourth Amendment protections for individuals throughout the country by limiting, to a certain extent, the special circumstances that allow an officer to enter a home without a warrant.

The Facts of the Case

After a highway patrol officer observed loud music coming from a parked car, and the driver of the car honking the horn multiple times despite there being no other vehicles around, the officer decided to follow the vehicle once it began moving. After following the vehicle for several blocks, the officer turned on his overhead lights, but the driver of the vehicle failed to pull over. The driver turned into his driveway and pulled into his garage. The officer interrupted the closing garage door and asked the driver if he had noticed that the officer turned on his overhead lights. The driver replied that he had not, and was charged with two vehicle code misdemeanors.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona drug case involving the defendant’s motion to suppress hundreds of pounds of marijuana found in his vehicle. Ultimately, the court found that the police officer unnecessarily and unjustifiably extended the duration of the traffic stop. Thus, the court held that the defendant was illegally seized and any evidence recovered as a result of the search could not be used at trial.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a state trooper observed the defendant following another vehicle too closely on Interstate 40. The trooper initiated a traffic stop, obtaining the defendant’s information. The trooper then asked the defendant to exit his car and sit in the front seat of the patrol vehicle.

At this point, the trooper’s drug-detection dog, which was seated directly behind the defendant, began barking. In response, the defendant became nervous; however, he continued to answer the trooper’s routine questions. The trooper verified the information provided by the defendant and issued a traffic citation.

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In a recently decided case in an Arizona court, the court denied a defendant’s motion to suppress physical evidence because of the defendant’s lack of legitimate expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. This case highlights the complicated nature of searches and seizures under the law and the importance of having an experienced criminal law attorney to assist in your defense.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an eight-month pregnant woman was driving in her car with her daughter when the driver of another vehicle ran her off the road as she attempted to merge into a new lane. The husband of the pregnant woman was driving directly behind his wife and witnessed the driver of the other vehicle cause his wife to almost hit a parked vehicle. As a result, the husband followed behind the other vehicle and yelled to the driver about running his wife off the road. The defendant, who was a passenger in the other car, fired a gun at the husband’s vehicle three times which caused a flat tire.

The husband and wife reported the incident to the police and reported the other car’s location after the pair followed the defendant. The defendant was dropped off at a community college while carrying two bags and dropped one of the bags in one of the lockers in a locker room. After checking the school’s surveillance video, a police officer searched the locker room. In a locker with mesh-like sides, the officer eventually found a similar-looking bag. The officer found the gun used in the shooting. The defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence found in the locker, arguing that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated due to the warrantless search of the locker. The lower court denied the motion. Despite arguing that his actions were a form of self-defense and defense of others in the car, the defendant was found guilty.

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In the state of Arizona, criminal defendants can request that the court excludes from trial certain evidence obtained in violation of a defendant’s rights. If you have been charged with committing a crime in Arizona, you may file a motion to suppress physical evidence if you believe specific rights granted from either the United States Constitution, the state constitution, or a statute are violated. Filing a motion to suppress can serve as an essential tool for disputing charges as a defendant.

For example, if police officials obtain evidence in violation of a criminal defendant’s Miranda rights, successfully requesting suppression of any evidence prior to trial would bar the prosecution from using it against the defendant once the trial commences. Another example is if a police officer illegally arrests you without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

If this evidence turns out to be important for the prosecution’s case and if the motion to suppress is successfully granted by the court, the exclusion of certain evidence could lead to a dismissal of the charges against the defendant. For example, if you are able to suppress a gun in an Arizona weapons case, the prosecution cannot proceed without the evidence, meaning they will often drop the case against you.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona drug case, affirming the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress. As a result, the defendant’s eight-year prison sentence for disorderly conduct and possession of narcotics was affirmed. The case is an example of the court’s ability to resolve conflicting versions of events at a motion to suppress.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, police received a call from the complaining witness, reporting a disturbance at her home. The complaining witness happened to work at the police station and called the responding officer as he was on his way to the scene. The officer could hear knocking and what he identified as a ringing doorbell in the background. The complaining witness told police that the defendant was the one causing the disturbance.

When the officer arrived, he saw the defendant outside the home and arrested him for disorderly conduct. Incident to the defendant’s arrest, the officer searched the defendant, finding methamphetamine and a pipe. The defendant tried to explain that he was trying to alert the complaining witness of a potential emergency. The complaining witness’s sister-in-law arrived on the scene, corroborating the defendant’s version of events.

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Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona assault case in which the defendant was also found in possession of methamphetamine. The appellate court’s opinion dealt with several issues, including the defendant’s claim that the officer illegally searched his vehicle without consent. However, because the court found the officer’s testimony more credible, it denied the defendant’s motion. The case illustrates the importance of credibility in criminal trials generally, as well as during a defendant’s testimony in a suppression hearing.

The Facts of the Case

According to the appellate opinion, a police officer pulled the defendant over for a traffic violation. During the stop, the officer asked the defendant for permission to search the car. According to the officer, the defendant agreed. The officer then found methamphetamine in a sunglasses case in a void underneath the steering column.

Although not relevant to this issue on appeal, the officer then asked the defendant to get out of the vehicle. Initially, the defendant complied, but then ran back into the car. As the officer reached into the door to grab the defendant, the defendant slammed the car door on the officer’s arm several times before the officer let go. The defendant then drove off.

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Possessory offenses, including Arizona gun crimes and drug offenses, often stem from an arrest where the contraband at issue is physically removed from the defendant or their property. While it may seem like there are no defenses when a police officer finds a gun or drugs on you, that is not the case.

A motion to suppress is one of the most common defenses to gun and drug crimes. In a motion to suppress, a defendant argues that the police activity that led to the discovery of the items violated their rights, under either the state or federal constitution. Motions to suppress are argued before a case goes to trial, in hopes of suppressing the evidence that the prosecution intends to use against the defendant. If a defendant succeeds in bringing a motion to suppress, the evidence cannot be admitted and, often, the prosecution has no choice but to withdraw the charges.

One of the more complex issues in search and seizure law involves whether a person has “standing” to bring a motion to suppress. Standing refers to a party’s legal ability to challenge another party’s actions. To litigate a motion to suppress, you must show that the police conducted a legally recognizable search of an area that you had both a subjective and objective expectation of privacy.

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