In a recent drug case coming out of a Texas court, the defendant appealed his conviction of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. In the defendant’s argument, he emphasized the fact that when a local police officer stopped him on the road one evening, the officer prolonged the traffic stop unnecessarily. Thus, the trial court should have suppressed the incriminating evidence that the officer found during the stop. The higher court reviewed the law around searches and seizures but ultimately disagreed with the defendant, denying his appeal.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving on the highway when a patrolling officer stopped him for not having a front license plate. The officer conducted a regular traffic stop, asking for the defendant’s driver’s license as well as his insurance information. Instead of a license, the defendant pulled out a Texas ID card and said that his license was “buried under tickets” somewhere in the car.
The defendant admitted a few minutes later that he did not actually have a driver’s license. Over the course of the defendant’s conversation with the officer, he provided jumbled responses when the officer inquired as to where the defendant was coming from and where he was headed. When the officer asked about the defendant’s previous arrests, the defendant mentioned one assault charge; however, upon conducting a computer check, the officer discovered that the defendant had other charges on his record for drug possession.
The officer asked permission to search the vehicle, and the defendant consented. Upon finding cocaine in the car, the officer arrested the defendant and he was charged accordingly.
After the defendant was convicted of intent to deliver a controlled substance, he appealed. According to the defendant, the officer prolonged the traffic stop unnecessarily. While the initial stop was justified, since the defendant did not have a front license plate, the continued questions and computer check were unwarranted. Thus, the cocaine that the officer found several minutes into the traffic stop should have been suppressed.
The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed with him. The officer had reason to suspect criminal activity because of several factors: the defendant was driving on a “known drug corridor” in Texas, the defendant’s answers were jumbled and contradictory, and the defendant had a previous drug charge on his record. Given these facts, it made sense for the officer to continue asking the defendant questions and for him to ultimately search the defendant’s vehicle. Because the search was reasonable, the cocaine that the officer found should not have been suppressed.
Thus, the court denied the defendant’s appeal and his conviction was affirmed.
Have You Been Charged with a Drug Crime in Texas?
At Guest and Gray, we use our combined decades of litigation experience to defend you against criminal charges. We handle cases involving Texas drug charges, firearms offenses, sex crimes and more. Our team is proud to fight for the citizen accused, and we are ready to defend your freedom. For a free and confidential consultation, give us a call at 972-564-4644. We represent clients facing criminal charges in Kaufman, Colin, Dallas, Kaufman and Hunt counties.