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Indiana Supreme Court to review police search struck down by COA

June 1, 2015

The Indiana Supreme Court will review a drug-possession conviction reversed by the Court of Appeals in February because a police search lacked reasonable suspicion.

Justices last week agreed to hear the state’s appeal in Antonio Garcia v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1402-CR-61. Garcia was convicted of Class D felony possession of a schedule III controlled substance and misdemeanor driving without a license. The COA reversed the possession conviction but let the misdemeanor stand.

Indianapolis police pulled over Garcia for driving at dusk without headlights and for failing to signal when changing lanes. After he was arrested for driving without a license, police found a small cylinder in his pocket that contained a hydrocodone/acetaminophen pill for which Garcia had no prescription. But Garcia provided evidence at trial that a recently deceased aunt had a prescription and the he placed the drug in the cylinder so his 9-year-old son wouldn’t find it.

The appeals court held the search was unreasonable and violated Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. The panel found there was no evidence the cylinder contained anything that threatened public safety and no reasonable suspicion it contained any illegal substances.

The Garcia case was the lone appeal granted transfer for the week ending May 29. Justices denied transfer to 21 other petitions. Transfer dispositions may be viewed here.

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