COA: Consent prevented constitutional violations

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of two defendants' motion to suppress evidence even though it wasn't reasonable under the Indiana Constitution because one of the men gave his consent to search the bag which held drugs.

In Canon Harper and Adrian Porch v. State of Indiana, No. 10A01-0908-CR-417, Canon Harper and Adrian Porch brought an interlocutory appeal of the denial of their motion to suppress drug and paraphernalia evidence seized during a traffic stop

Police noticed the license plate light was out on Harper's car and went to pull the car over. Before doing so, Harper and Porch pulled into a motel, Porch got out of the car with a bag and headed toward a room. The police pulled up behind Harper's car without activating their lights and asked Porch to come back. They explained that Harper's license plate light was out and then asked Porch if they could pat him down and search the bag. Porch claimed the bag belonged to an ex-girlfriend of Harper and consented to the pat down and search of the bag, which had cocaine and paraphernalia in it.

The appellate court found the stop and search didn't violate the Fourth Amendment after applying Tawdul v. State, 720 N.E.2d 1211, 1217 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). It wasn't unreasonable for the officers to briefly detain Porch after they legally stopped Harper's car until the officers could make an assessment of the situation. Porch's detention was justified because it wasn't unreasonably long or intrusive, wrote Judge Patricia Riley.

Harper and Porch claimed that the traffic stop had been completed after they confirmed the license plate light was out and there was no need for the pat-down search and search of the bag.

"Nevertheless, because Porch consented to the search of his person and to the search of the duffle bag, insofar as they complain that the search was unreasonable, they cannot prevail, as it is well established that consent is a valid exception to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment," she wrote.

Porch's consent also justified the search under Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Even though based on the totality of the circumstances, the state failed to show the pat down and search was reasonable but Porch verbally assented to the pat down and search of the bag. An exception to the search-warrant requirement happens when consent is given to the search, under the theory that when someone gives permission to a search of either his person or property, any governmental intrusion is presumed to be reasonable.

The appellate court also declined to extend the language of the Seatbelt Enforcement Act to the part of Indiana Code that requires the illumination of license plates in light of State v. Washington, 898 N.E.2d 1200, 1207 (Ind. 2008).


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.