In a recent opinion from a Texas court, the defendant’s motion to suppress was denied. Originally, the defendant was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and aggravated assault. He appealed, arguing that the prosecutor’s use of evidence from the black box in his car was unwarranted. The court disagreed, sustaining the original verdict.
The Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving one of his friends when he sped around a curve and lost control of his car. Immediately, the defendant crashed into a tree, and his friend died due to injuries sustained in the crash. Investigating the case, police officers obtained a search warrant to recover the defendant’s black box event data recorder. According to police officers, this black box would tell them important information on the car’s speed both at and before the crash itself.
While preparing for trial, the defendant argued that the officers should not have been allowed to seize the car’s black box – it was a violation of his right to privacy. The trial court denied this motion and proceeded with trial. Eventually, a jury heard all of the evidence and concluded that the defendant was guilty of homicide and aggravated assault because of his reckless driving.
The Court’s Decision
On appeal, the defendant made several arguments. One of these arguments was that the court should not have denied his motion to suppress incriminating evidence found on the black box event data recorder. According to the defendant, this black box was part of his vehicle and was thus his private property. The warrant that police used to seize the box was not, according to the defendant, based on probable cause that the box would have valuable information.
The court disagreed. It is true, said the court, that the law requires police officers to have probable cause before obtaining a warrant to search a defendant’s private property. However, if a suspect has abandoned his vehicle, he can no longer challenge any evidence that is collected from it. In this case, the defendant’s car was towed to a wrecker’s lot after the crash. The lot called the defendant to tell him he could collect his car, but the defendant made no effort to retrieve the vehicle, and his insurer eventually sent it to an automobile auction. When law officers received their warrant, they proceeded to travel to the wrecker’s lot to search the car. Because the defendant had abandoned his car, he no longer had a right to privacy, and the officers’ actions were thus reasonable under the circumstances. Given these facts, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.
Are You Facing Homicide or Assault Charges in Texas?
If you are facing homicide or assault charges in Texas, you have options moving forward. At Guest and Gray Law Firm, we are proud to fight for the freedom of defendants facing criminal charges. We have a team of hardworking attorneys who are ready to speak with you and map out a defense strategy that works for you. Don’t wait – call us today at 972-564-4644.