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Of the things that Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale tries to do is get cases dismissed. He does that by attacking whether not law enforcement had a right to search his clients home, car, cell phone, or other personal property. Sometimes cases can be dismissed by filing a motion to suppress evidence. This is a highly technical area.
Take for instance the case of Gomez vs. State in the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Gomez was tried by a judge for possession of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of paraphernalia, and obstructing an officer. The court denied his motion to suppress. On appeal, Gomez argued that the evidence sees as a result of a warrantless search of his car should have been suppressed by the trial court because a search was not supported by probable cause or a showing of emergency circumstances.
Here are the facts of the case. An officer stopped Gomez for sorting across the center of the yellow line twice while traveling on the highway. The officer asked for Gomez’s driver’s license and registration. At that time he noticed smelled alcohol is all in Gomez his car. The containers run (one content was missing. He also told domestic and out of the car because he wanted to search the car for an open container. The ulcer escorted domestic from the pro-his patrol car began to search the media driver’s area of the car. Before the also began searching, Gomez clearly stated that he did not consent to the search. As also Bobo search the driver’s immediate area, he knows the center console was ajar and opened it. Inside the console was an open bottle of alcohol. The officer also found a glass pipe containing a small amount of methamphetamine and a digital scale.
This case presented to the issues. One is whether the smelled of alcohol and of the circumstances, the absence of an alcoholic beverage container provides sufficient probable cause for a warrantless vehicle search. Secondly, when a warrantless search of the vehicle must be supported by a showing of and circumstances as well as probable cause. Gomez commit contended that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress the drug and drug paraphernalia evidence that was seized as a result of the search of his car.
Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale that said that the appellate court first looked at the issue of probable cause. The state and federal constitutions prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures. The above constitutions and officers are to find something a vehicle if he has probable cause to believe that drivers violating some traffic law. In this case, the officer saw Gomez crossover yellow center line twice while traveling on the highway. This observation constitutes sufficient cause to stop the defendant. Therefore his initial detention was justified. However, despite considering the validity of the traffic stop, the defendant contended that the smelled alcohol and was a container from of a disturbed six-pack of beer did not constitute sufficient probable cause for warrantless search of his car.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals held in a 2007 case that the test for judging the existence of public causes whether a reasonable prudent police officer, considering the totality of the circumstances confronting him and drawing from his experience, would be warranted in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed. According to the appellate court, probable cause is a flexible, common-sense standard, the claimant the facts available to the officer would warrant a person of reasonable caution in the belief that certain items may be contraband or useful in as evidence of a crime. Therefore, public cause that rises to the level to justify a warrantless search of the vehicle existence of if an officer reasonably believes the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of the crime.
With the standard, based on the swerving on the highway, the smelled of alcohol, and the missing bottle, the officers believe that the defendant’s car contained evidence of crime, that is an open alcohol container, was reasonable, according to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale said that facts and details are especially important in a motion to suppress evidence. Not all cases of the same, the facts in one case that will uphold the prosecution’s position could be totally different for a client’s case. That means there’s always a chance to suppress evidence, and get a case dismissed.
There have been similar cases upholding searches where officer smelled marijuana. For example one case held that an officer who smelled marijuana while preaching of fan that he had stopped for failure to dim headlights have probable cause to search for contraband. In another case the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals held an officer who smelled burning marijuana while approaching the defendants car for a taillight violation have probable cause to search for contraband.
Gomez contended however that regardless whether the officer could legitimately search for and seize an open container of alcohol, the contraband that were awfully found the vehicle center console but even if container with the fruit of an unlawful search. Gomez argued that once he also removed the bottle from the center console there is no further justification to rummage around in a console searching for contraband. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed. It said that the officer’s warrantless search of the interior of the car for no container of alcohol is lawful because it was supported by probable cause. Therefore because the officer reasonably believe there might be no container the car, is entitled to search the entire interior of the car, including the center console the front seat. The holding is based on the US Supreme Court decision in Wyoming vs. Halton, which held that of public cause justify search of lawfully stopped vehicle, justify search of every part of the vehicle that may conceal an object of search including all containers within the vehicle without showing of individual probable cause for each container. Another Oklahoma court of criminal appeals case in 1984 held that if an officer has public cause to believe that there is contraband somewhere the car, but is not know exactly where, he may search the entire car as well as any containers found.