The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect defendants from unreasonable searches and seizures of themselves, their homes, and their property. Evidence gathered in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be used against a defendant at trial. Thus, defendants who can prove that the evidence used against them was collected in violation of the Fourth Amendment may be entitled to the dismissal of the charges against them.
The Texas Court of Appeals recently heard an appeal by the State of Texas that challenged the suppression of evidence obtained against a defendant who had been accused of possession of drugs. The defendant in the recently decided case was driving a vehicle when he was recognized by a law enforcement officer as a known criminal offender. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the officer began to follow the defendant and witnessed him commit a traffic violation as he pulled into a gas station. The officer pulled behind the defendant and signaled him to stop, at which point the defendant exited his vehicle and behaved suspiciously. The officer engaged with the defendant and notified him that he was stopped for a minor traffic violation. The officer asked the defendant for consent to search his person and vehicle, which the defendant initially gave.
After another officer arrived on the scene, the defendant revoked the consent to search his vehicle and made statements suggesting that the officers were going to get a canine unit to search his car. As a result of the defendant’s statements, the officers called a canine unit, which took 38 minutes to arrive. The canine unit alerted the officers to the presence of marijuana in the car, which was ultimately found after a search was performed. As a result of the drugs being found, the defendant was charged with possession of a controlled substance.