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COA rules police officer's questions not unconstitutional

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a man has incorrectly interpreted the Fourth Amendment in his appeal and that no constitutional violation occurred when he allowed a police officer to search his car.

In Chad M. McLain v. State of Indiana, No. 20A05-1109-CR-480, Elkhart County Police Officer Randy Valderrama pulled over Chad McLain when McLain failed to adequately signal before making a turn. Valderrama approached McLain’s car, requested his license and registration, and as he walked back to his patrol car he noticed McLain appear to tense up and look at the center console. Upon running a check on his license, Valderrama saw McLain had two prior “incidences” for possession of marijuana.

Valderrama issued a written warning and told McLain he was free to go. Valderrama then asked McLain if he had anything illegal in his vehicle, saying he was curious because of McLain’s two prior incidences. He asked if he could search the car, and McLain gave him permission. As the two walked toward McLain’s car, McLain admitted he had a marijuana pipe on the seat and a bag of marijuana in the dash console. Valderrama handcuffed McLain and put him in the back of the patrol car and requested assistance from a canine officer.

The canine officer’s dog alerted police to the presence of marijuana, and McLain was placed under arrest.

On appeal, McLain claimed the search of his car was a violation of his state and federal constitutional guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.

“McLain’s argument is based on the faulty premise that the Fourth Amendment was implicated after Officer Valderrama gave him his license, registration, and the warning citation and told him that he was free to leave.” Judge Terry Crone wrote in the COA opinion. “At that point, McLain was in fact free to leave, and he was not required to answer the officer’s questions.”

Concluding McLain clearly and voluntarily consented to the search, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision to admit evidence obtained in the search of McLain’s car.

 

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  1. Welcome to Hendricks County where local and state statutes (especially Indiana Class C misdemeanors) are given a higher consideration than Federal statues and active duty military call-ups.

  2. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  3. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  4. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  5. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

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