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Drug Convictions Reversed Due to Illegal Search

An Indiana man’s convictions for possession of methamphetamine, a Level 6 felony, possession of marijuana, a Class B misdmeanor, and possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor were overturned after the Indiana Court of Appeals determined the drugs admitted at trial were the result of an illegal search by police. Police came into contact with the man when he was a passenger in a traffic stop. Officers said that he made furtive movements and they were concerned he had a weapon. Officers then conducted a pat-down search where they felt an object in the man’s waistband. That object turned out to be a sock that fell out of the leg of the man’s pants. Officers searched the sock where they found methamphetamine, marijuana, and pills.

The trial court denied a motion to suppress, finding the search of the sock lawful. Upon appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals found that the search of the sock was improper and exceeded the scope of a Terry search in violation of the Constitution. The Court found that because the officer testified only about the “possibility” of a weapon. The search of the sock under the “plain feel” doctrine was not justified because the officer was not aware of the sock’s contents when it fell from the man’s pants. The Court ruled that the officer should have obtained a search warrant prior to searching the sock and the man’s convictions were overturned.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, including for possession of methamphetamine, marijuana, or cocaine, following a traffic stop or other search of your person, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who can evaluate your case for any possible suppression issues. With offices in Anderson, Lafayette, Bloomington, and Fort Wayne, the attorneys at Gibson Law Office can help.