Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Judge Grants Motion to Suppress in Unlawful Search Case

                A motion to suppress was heard Friday October 14, 2011 in Marion Co. Circuit Ct. The charge, Delivery of Marijuana to a Minor, carried a guidelines sentence of 18 months prison. Drug cases are usually about the search. Where did they find it? How did they put their hands on the drugs? What can we do to eliminate the evidence? The answer is found in the Oregon and U.S. Constitution. Amendment IV to the US Constitution provides the basis for suppression when the police have conducted a search which violates reasonable search and seizure laws.
                In the Oct 14 case, police had been called to a park where a group of young men were “smoking marijuana” according to the named caller. When police arrived, they saw one of the male individuals smoking from a makeshift pipe just before throwing it in the bushes. Police called for him to retrieve the pipe, then ordered everyone to “take the weed” out of their pockets. This constituted an unlawful search, a search without probable cause or a warrant. The judge ruled in favor of the defense and granted the motion to suppress. 

                Usually, when a motion to suppress evidence is granted, all of the evidence from that point forward is also suppressed. This is known as “fruit of the poisonous tree” from the landmark case of Wong Sun vs U.S., 371 US 471 (1963). The reasoning goes that, where an unconstitutional police search uncovers evidence, any evidence subsequently gathered is also tainted.
In the Marion Co. case, the court ruled that the stop and search was conducted in violation of the 4th Amendment. Since the search yielded evidence that could not be used, any evidence obtained following was also inadmissible. The State may now dismiss or appeal. 

- Gig Wyatt, Attorney at Law
Harris, Wyatt, and Amala
www.SalemOregonCriminalDefense.com
Salem Oregon