Published on:

The issue in this case is whether the evidence should be suppressed

A Suffolk Criminal Lawyer said that, this is an appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the County Court, Suffolk County, rendered June 18, 1986, convicting him of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (two counts), upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence. The appeal brings up for review the denial, after a hearing, of that branch of the defendant’s omnibus motion which was to suppress physical evidence.

A Suffolk Drug Possession Lawyer said that, two New York State Police Troopers observed the defendant driving in a reckless manner, at very high speeds, upon the Southern State Parkway at 4:00 A.M. As the defendant left the parkway, the Troopers stopped his car, approached with guns drawn, directed him to exit from his car, and immediately conducted a search of his person, informing him that he was under arrest for reckless driving. A search of the defendant’s pockets disclosed, inter alia, several foil packets which contained a white powdered substance. The subsequent search of the interior of the automobile revealed a closed brown, paper lunch bag which was found to contain a plastic bag holding more of a white powdered substance. Subsequent laboratory analysis confirmed that some of the material found in the paper bag was cocaine. Robbery and domestic violence were no involved.

A Suffolk Cocaine Possession Lawyer said that, on appeal, the defendant contends, inter alia, that the search of his person and the automobile was improper and that the fruits of this search should have been suppressed. In this regard he alleges that the State Troopers used his reckless driving as a pretext to conduct the illegal search, where the alternative of issuing a summons was available to them.

The issue in this case is whether the evidence should be suppressed on the ground that it was illegally obtained.

The court agrees. The Court of Appeals has indicated that, upon an arrest for a traffic offense, a full-blown search is not justified where the arrest was unnecessary because an alternative summons was available, or because the arrest was a pretext. The testimony adduced at the suppression hearing demonstrates that the State Troopers exercised no discretion in deciding to arrest and search the defendant and, in fact, immediately upon alighting from their patrol car, were determined to arrest and search the defendant. Since no showing has been made as to why an arrest was deemed necessary or inevitable, we conclude that the arrest herein was a pretext and that an alternative summons was probably available. Accordingly, suppression of the items recovered from the defendant’s person should have been granted and the items recovered from the defendant’s automobile must also be suppressed as fruits of the initial, unlawful search.

Furthermore, inasmuch as the contraband seized constituted the entire basis for the indictment, it must be dismissed. In view of our holding we need not reach the defendant’s other contentions.

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution the court finds that it was legally sufficient to establish that the defendant was in constructive possession of the cocaine seized from a room in his home, and thus guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree. Moreover, upon the exercise of our factual review power, we are satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence.

Accordingly, the court held that the judgment is reversed, on the law, that branch of the defendant’s omnibus motion which was to suppress physical evidence is granted, the indictment is dismissed, and the matter is remitted to the County Court, Suffolk County, for the purpose of entering an order in its discretion pursuant to CPL 160.50.

The rule is that, upon an arrest for a traffic offense, a full-blown search is not justified where the arrest was unnecessary because an alternative summons was available, or because the arrest was a pretext. If you are arrested for cocaine possession and the manner of arrest was illegal, seek the legal advice of a Suffolk Criminal Attorney and Suffolk Cocaine Possession Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates in order to suppress the evidence obtained against you.

Contact Information