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COA orders trial on drug charges

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On interlocutory appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s denial of an Elkhart County man’s motion to suppress evidence police seized from him and his residence while investigating possible drug dealing.

Police believed Ignacio Perez may have been involved in supplying cocaine to a man who sold the drug to an undercover officer. Three cars involved in the drug buys were seen at Perez’s property, including one registered in his name. Police went to Perez’s home to speak with him, and Perez freely stepped outside and closed his front door. He seemed nervous and became agitated when his wife opened the door. He yelled at her in Spanish and bumped into an officer trying to get to the front door, which led to police putting Perez in handcuffs and charging him with resisting law enforcement.

A dog sniff of the closed front door alerted officers to the presence of illegal narcotics. A search warrant turned up cocaine, a handgun, ammunition, scales, plastic baggies and more than $2,400 in cash. Perez was charged with Class A felony dealing in cocaine and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. He filed a motion to suppress all evidence seized, which was denied.

Perez argues that the evidence must be suppressed because the police illegally detained him and handcuffed him, so his arrest for resisting law enforcement was unlawful and the subsequent search of his person violated his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Perez also claims that there was no probable cause to issue the search warrant for his residence and that the evidence seized during the search of his residence was unlawful.

In Ignacio Perez v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1206-CR-247, the judges noted the encounter between police and Perez began consensually and they rejected his claim that his detention was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment merely because the police were on his property.

The police had reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot and could lawfully detain Perez based on the evidence that Perez’s home was linked to multiple sales of cocaine, he had surveillance cameras set up outside, and he locked his front door and moved away from it when talking to police, the judges held. The officers also didn’t know what Perez was yelling in Spanish to his wife, so it was reasonable for them to detain him to control the scene.

The trial court properly denied the motion to suppress the cash seized from Perez following his arrest for resisting law enforcement, and the canine sniff was not an illegal search, the COA ruled.

Finally, the judges found that probable cause existed to issue the search warrant and that Perez’s claims that the search and seizure were violations under Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution also fail.

 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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