ILNews

COA: Police didn't need to search car after stop

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a man's unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon conviction, ruling the warrantless search of the car the man was driving violated his federal and state constitutional rights.

In light of the recent United States Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 129 S. Ct. 170, 1719 (2009), the appellate court here reversed Timothy Hathaway's conviction because there was no reasonable basis for the arresting officer to search the car following the traffic stop. Hathaway was pulled over after a police officer saw him make a right turn without properly signaling and for having dark-tinted windows. Hathaway was originally arrested for driving while suspended with a prior judgment and told officers the car was registered to his sister. Both he and his passenger cooperated with police.

The police officer searched the car as part of a search incident to arrest and an inventory search prior to towing the vehicle. He found a gun under the driver's seat, and Hathaway admitted the gun was his. Hathaway's sister arrived at the scene and was allowed to drive her car home.

Hathaway was only charged with unlawful possession and not any traffic infractions or driving with a suspended license. He filed a motion to suppress the handgun, which was denied.

In Timothy Hathaway v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0807-CR-568, the appellate court found Gant to be similar to the instant case. Gant was arrested for driving while suspended and police found cocaine in his car. The U.S. Supreme Court held in cases where the recent occupant of a car is arrested for a traffic violation, there isn't a reasonable basis to believe the car contains relevant evidence.

Under the Indiana Constitution, the burden is on the state to show the search was reasonable under the totality of the circumstances, wrote Senior Judge Betty Barteau. There weren't any facts in this case to show the police officer needed to search Hathaway's car to find or preserve evidence of driving with a suspended license. Everyone cooperated and the officer didn't testify he feared for his safety during the stop. Based on the facts of the case, the search was unreasonable under the Indiana Constitution, she wrote.

The appellate court reversed Hathaway's conviction and sentence and remanded for it to be vacated.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

ADVERTISEMENT