In a recent drug case coming out of a Texas court, the higher court agreed with a lower court’s ruling that incriminating evidence should have been suppressed. Originally, the defendant in the case was charged with marijuana possession, but he filed a motion to suppress the drugs because he did not give officers voluntary consent to search his home. The lower court agreed and accepted the defendant’s motion to suppress. When the State of Texas appealed this decision, the higher court kept the original ruling in place and suppressed the incriminating evidence.
The Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was out of town when his ex-wife called the police to report that there was marijuana in his house. She told the police that she was at the defendant’s house to pick up her minor son, but in reality, she already had her son with her and it was not a scheduled pick-up day.
Two officers went to the defendant’s home and found a small attached garage and greenhouse. As they walked towards the garage, the officers smelled marijuana. They looked through the window of the greenhouse and saw what they thought were marijuana plants. The officers called the defendant and said to him that they located his marijuana and would cause property damage if he did not consent to their search of the home.
The defendant sent his adult son to the home and asked the son to let the officers into the home so they could conduct a search. The officers seized the marijuana and the defendant was indicted for the felony of possessing five pounds or less but more than four ounces of marijuana. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the incriminating evidence, arguing that the officers conducted a warrantless search of the home and the drug evidence was thus not admissible. The court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress.
The Appellate Court’s Decision
The State appealed, arguing that the court should not have granted the motion to suppress. According to the State, the officers had total consent to search the home, given that they called the defendant and asked explicitly if he was okay with their entry into his residence. Because the defendant agreed and sent his son to open the door for the officers, the search was not illegal.
The court disagreed with the State’s argument. While it was true that the officers called the defendant to ask for his permission to search the home, the defendant was threatened with property damage and thus he had very little choice as to how he responded to the officers’ request. Because the defendant did not voluntarily agree to the search, the evidence was illegally obtained, and the original court’s decision on the motion to suppress was correctly decided.
The higher court thus left the lower court’s ruling as it stood, suppressing the evidence that the defendant requested to suppress.
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