A recent case Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument case before an appellate court in New York highlights the power that police officers have to search personal vehicles and seize suspicious items upon discovering evidence of criminal activity. In this case, in particular, the State of New York charged the defendant with unlawful possession of a skimmer device, which is a tool that helps people commit credit card fraud. The defendant was eventually found guilty by a jury, and he appealed, arguing that the officers did not have legal grounds to search his vehicle. After considering the defendant’s argument, the higher court denied the appeal and affirmed the lower court’s judgment.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving one evening when an officer pulled him over for not using his turn signal. The officer approached the car, and the defendant quickly admitted that he did not possess a driver’s license. The officer smelled marijuana while speaking with the defendant, and he told the defendant to exit the vehicle.
The officer then searched the car and found a skimmer device in the vehicle. The State charged the defendant with several crimes, including unlawful possession of a skimmer device and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the incriminating evidence, which was denied by the trial court.
The defendant’s case then proceeded to trial, and the defendant was found guilty. He promptly appealed the verdict.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court unreasonably denied his motion to suppress. According to the defendant, the officer did not have legal grounds to search his vehicle, and the State thus should not have been able to introduce evidence of the skimmer device at trial.
The court reviewed the record of the case and ultimately disagreed with the defendant. To start, said the court, the officer noticed that the defendant violated a traffic law by failing to use his turn signal. The officer was thus justified in conducting the initial traffic stop. Next, the officer smelled marijuana on the defendant’s person, which gave him reasonable grounds to search the defendant’s personal vehicle.
Because the officer could reasonably suspect that criminal activity was afoot, the search was justified. The court therefore denied the defendant’s appeal, and his original conviction and sentence both remained in place.
Are You Looking for Solid Criminal Defense Representation in the State of New York?
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in New York and haven’t yet found a lawyer you feel comfortable with, give the dedicated NY criminal defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates a call. We are committed to offering our clients personalized, aggressive representation, and we don’t stop until we’ve done all we can to get your charges dropped. We handle all types of cases, including theft crimes and other offenses involving complex allegations of fraud. For a free and confidential consultation with a defense attorney, give us a call today at 877-377-8666. You can also fill out our online form to tell us more about your case.