Texas Appeals Court Overrules Defendant’s Appeal, Affirming Lower Court Decision in Drug Case
In a recent Texas drug case, the defendant appealed the trial court decision, arguing that his conviction was the result of law enforcement violating his Fourth Amendment rights, evidence that should have been suppressed, and ineffective defense counsel. The defendant was convicted of a gram or less of methamphetamine, a state jail felony. The trial court then sentenced him to state jail for 12 months.
Facts of the Case
Law enforcement officers were directed by a dispatcher to a location with reported shots fired. There, witnesses described the shooter as wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. They stated that the man was walking northbound, pointing in the direction they saw him walking. A police officer began driving in the direction they pointed, and after a block or two, spotted the defendant. He detained the defendant, patted him down, and after finding nothing, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the patrol car. Without probable cause to arrest the defendant, the officer was about to release him when he asked for consent to search the defendant’s person. The officer had not told the defendant he was free to go. After receiving verbal consent, the officer conducted the search, finding a small packet of white substance in the defendant’s pocket. After field testing it, it came back positive for methamphetamine, and the defendant was arrested. After the arrest, the substance was sent for laboratory testing and determined to be methamphetamine.
Following the trial, the defendant presented three issues for appeal. (1) law enforcement violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, (2) the evidence discovered from the unlawful search should have been suppressed or excluded from the trial, and (3) at trial, the defense counsel was ineffective by failing to file a motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence and by failing to object to the introduction of the illegally obtained evidence. The appellate court found that the first two issues were not preserved for appeal as he never presented his complaint to the trial court and never asked the trial court to suppress or exclude the allegedly inadmissible evidence.
On the third issue, the appellate court found that the conduct of the defense counsel at trial did not rise to the level of ineffective counsel. The opinion states that a review for ineffective counsel is highly deferential and there is a strong presumption that counsel’s conduct was not deficient in such cases. The opinion goes on to state that the trial counsel should have an opportunity to explain his actions before being denounced as ineffective. Failing that, the appellate court should not conclude that counsel performed deficiently unless the challenged conduct was “so outrageous that no competent attorney would have engaged in it.” The appellate court found that the defense counsel’s actions did not rise to that level here, affirming the lower court decision and overruling all issues raised by the defendant.
Are You Facing Texas Drug Charges?
If you are facing drug charges in the state of Texas, call our attorneys at Guest & Gray. We offer unparalleled and skillful legal representation that gets you through the toughest times, and we will work tirelessly until you receive the results you need. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 972-564-4644.