Many cases - especially DWI and drug cases - start with a traffic stop. The scenario usually involves the observation of a traffic offense, which leads to either a search or further investation. To justify the stop the officer has to have reasonable suspicion to believe an offense has been committed, and to go furtther and perform a search they must have probable cause. Those rules come from the Fourth Amendmet to the United States Constitution, which prevents the State from subjecting its citizens to "unreasonable" searches and seizure.

What is "unreasonable" is generally decided by the Courts. Over the years the Courts have steadily chipped away at the Fourth Amendment, to where now almost any behavior can justify a stop or search. Recently, Justice Quinn from the Amarillo Court of Appeals pointed out just how ridiculous the law has become in the case of in the case of Elvis Elvis Ramirez-Tamayo. He starts off his opinion with this:

A logical reasoning sequence based upon some “training and experience” — because drug traffickers have been seen breathing, then breathing is an indicia of drug trafficking. Because they normally have two hands, then having two hands is an indicia of drug smuggling. Silly — maybe, but one can wonder if that is the direction we are heading. Whether it be driving a clean vehicle, Contreras v. State, 309 S.W.3d 168, 171 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2010, pet. ref’d), or looking at a peace officer, Gonzalez-
Galindo v. State, 306 S.W.3d 893, 895-96 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2010, pet ref’d), Contreras v. State, 309 S.W.3d at 171; or looking away from a peace officer, Gonzalez-Galindo v. State, 306 S.W.3d at 896; or a young person driving a newer vehicle, Gonzalez-Galindo v. State, supra; or someone driving in a car with meal wrappers, Deschenes v. State, 253 S.W.3d 374, 383 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2008, pet. ref’d); or someone driving carefully, Contreras v. State, supra; or driving on an interstate, see Clatt v. State, No. 07-07-0130-CR, 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 7250, at *2 (Tex. App.—Amarillo September 29, 2008, no pet) (mem. op., not designated for publication) (wherein the official testified that I-35 was a “drug corridor”), most anything can be considered as indicia of drug trafficking to law enforcement personnel. Maybe this is because drug smugglers just happen to be human beings and being such, they tend to engage in the same innocuous acts in which law abiding citizens engage. See Gonzalez-Galindo v. State, 306 S.W.3d at 896 (observing that “[c]riminals come in all makes and colors. Some have hair, some do not. Some are men, some are not. Some drive cars, some do not. Some wear suits, some do not. Some have baseball caps, some do not. Some want attention, some do not. Some have nice cars, some do not. Some eat spaghetti, some do not. And, sometimes, some even engage in innocent activity.”). The problem comes with distinguishing between innocent conduct indicative of nothing but everyday activity and innocent conduct indicative of crime. That is the hurdle we once again face here, and it is made difficult to clear due to the unasked questions by the State about the “knowledge, experience, and training” of its sole witness.

Without a doubt, this one of the best descriptions of the current state of Fourth Amendment law I've seen. You can bet it's going to be in all the Motions to Suppress I file in the future.

If you want to know more about your rights check out this article.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.
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