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Judges uphold drug convictions and sentence

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A defendant’s argument that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when police searched his vehicle and found pills failed because the man abandoned his vehicle after the traffic stop. By fleeing, he relinquished any reasonable expectation of privacy in the car, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.

A police officer initiated a traffic stop of Douglas Wilson Jr.’s car after the officer saw Wilson’s car parked in a handicapped spot without a proper plate or permit. After running the vehicle plate, the officer found that Wilson’s license was suspended and he had outstanding arrest warrants. While the officer was radioing about the traffic stop, Wilson got out of his car, locked the doors, and fled.

Police decided to tow the car and found hydromorphone and morphine sulfate pills and cellophane wrappers in the car that were prescribed to Wilson’s girlfriend. Police later found Wilson, and he was convicted of Class B felony dealing in a narcotic drug, Class D felony possession of a narcotic drug, Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, and Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while suspended.

His motion to suppress the drugs found in the car was denied at trial. On appeal in Douglas P. Wilson, Jr. v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-1107-CR-350, Wilson claimed that admitting the evidence found in the car violated the Fourth Amendment because the officer’s search was unreasonable because it was an improper inventory search. Wilson abandoned his vehicle after the officer initiated a traffic stop, and the judges found his argument that he locked his car and took the keys with him unpersuasive.

There was sufficient evidence to support his drug convictions as Wilson had constructive possession over the pills and a witness saw Wilson trying to sell some of the pills the day before he was pulled over by police. The judges also upheld his 13-year sentence.

 

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