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.
However, at trial, the court rejected the defendant’s motion to suppress. The defendant appealed.
The Appellate Decision
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny the defendant’s motion to suppress. The appellate court explained that police officers are permitted to make a warrantless arrest if they possess probable cause to believe someone was engaging in criminal activity. Additionally, the court noted that once an officer makes a valid arrest, they are able to conduct a search of the person.
Here, the court found that the officer’s arrest, as well as the subsequent search, was permissible. The court held that the defendant’s conduct outside the complaining witness’ home gave the officer probable cause to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Under state law, disorderly conduct is defined as when a person engages in seriously disruptive behavior with the intent to disturb the peace.
The court acknowledged that the defendant and a third party provided an alternate version of events. If true, the defendant’s version may have provided him a justification to engage in what otherwise may have been disorderly conduct. However, the appellate court found that the lower court was presented with this information and was free to reject the defendant’s version of events.
Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona Crime?
If you face serious charges as a result of a recent arrest, contact the Law Office of James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a veteran Tempe criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling a wide range of cases on behalf of clients from all walks of life. Whether you face an Arizona drug charge, gun crime, DUI offense or allegations of domestic violence, Attorney Novak can help you develop a compelling defense to the charges. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 480-413-1499.