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New York Court of Appeals Affirms Lower Court Decision, Rejecting Defendant’s Appeal

In a recent New York criminal defense case, a New York Appellate Court affirmed the trial court decision, finding that the court had properly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence in a case involving illegal possession of guns and illegal possession of drugs.   In the appeal, the defendant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress his statements and certain physical evidence. The defendant was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (two counts), criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree (four counts), criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and three traffic violations.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a state trooper observed the defendant’s vehicle change lanes without signaling and cross over a rumble strip on the highway. The state trooper proceeded to initiate a traffic stop, pulling the defendant over. Upon approaching the defendant’s car, the state trooper observed the defendant sitting in an “unnatural position” that appeared to shield something from view. In response to questioning, the defendant stated that he was returning from work. At that point, the state trooper asked the defendant to exit the vehicle, and the defendant complied. The state trooper continued to question the defendant, at which point, the defendant stated that he was returning from a friend’s house, which was inconsistent with his original answer. At this point, the state trooper decided to run a “file check” on the defendant and discovered he was on parole. The state trooper and his partner then asked for permission to search the car, and according to the trooper, the defendant answered in the affirmative.

Shortly thereafter, the state troopers discovered a small bag of jewelry hidden in the car and asked to search the defendant’s person after observing a bulge in the defendant’s waistband. The defendant gave his consent, and the state trooper patted down the defendant, ultimately retrieving a folded plastic bag containing substances that field tested positive for crack cocaine and heroin, as well as pharmaceutical pills. The defendant was then transported to the barracks where he made incriminating statements and allegedly gave his consent to retrieve certain items from his residence. A search of his car based on the defendant’s statements revealed a handgun in a hidden compartment.

The Decision

The defendant argued that the lower court improperly denied his motion to suppress physical evidence and incriminating statements. The appeals court found that the lower court decision was sound. The opinion states that the state trooper’s observations that the defendant engaged in various traffic violations justified the initial stop. Additionally, the court found that the trooper was entitled to request that the defendant exit the vehicle, and the defendant’s behavior and inconsistent responses provided the suspicion necessary for the car to be searched. Additionally, the defendant’s status as a parolee further properly informed the trooper’s decisions. Lastly, the bulge in the defendant’s waistband was consistent with the profile of a weapon, justifying the trooper’s search of the defendant’s person. As a result, the appeals court affirmed the lower court decision and denied the defendant’s appeal.

Have You Been Charged with a Gun or Drug Crime in New York?

If you are facing criminal charges for a gun or drug crime in New York, call our office at Tilem & Associates. Having an experienced team of lawyers on your side can make all the difference. Our dedicated team of attorneys is full of knowledgeable, aggressive, and successful litigators, and we have proudly protected the rights of individuals for over 25 years. Let us bring our expertise to every step of your case. For a free no-obligation and confidential consultation, call us at 877-377-8666.

 

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