Court Upholds Suppression of Habitual Traffic Offender Evidence
Police cannot randomly interrogate people or search their possessions. The Indiana Court of Appeals recently upheld a ruling of the Jay Superior Court (Portland, IN) to suppress evidence obtained during the interrogation of man ultimately charged with operating a motor vehicle while suspended for life, a Class C felony.
Police arrived at a party located just outside Pennville, Indiana in response to a noise complaint. The police spoke with several persons about the noise complaint and the party goers complied with their request to turn the noise down. As officers were leaving, they observed a truck drive by the lane leading to the party, then turn around a pull down the lane. Although the noise complaint had been resolved, the police officer decided to approach the driver to warn him about future noise at the party. The officer believed the driver appeared nervous and asked to see his driver’s license. The driver gave a false name. During the interrogation, the Pennville Town Marshall returned to the scene and recognized the driver and advised other officers of his correct name. It was determined the driver was a habitual traffic violator and that his driver’s license was suspended for life. He was arrested for felony operating a motor vehicle while suspended for life.
The Jay Superior Court Judge granted the driver’s motion to suppress the evidence ruling that the interrogation of the driver was unlawful. The Indiana Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. The Court ruled that because the police had already responded and resolved the noise complaint, and the defendant had not yet arrived at the party, there was no need for police to interact with the defendant and no need to ascertain his identity. As a result, the police interrogation was unlawful under the Indiana Constitution.
Citizens have a legitimate expectation of privacy in their homes, cars, and computers. Police cannot randomly interrogate citizens. You should never consent the search of your person, vehicle, home, or computer. The police must have probable cause that a crime was committed to obtain a search warrant. Whether you are stopped for DUI, accused of theft, or suspected of maintaining a common nuisance, you should never give a statement to police without your lawyer present. If you are a suspect of a crime, or have been charged with a crime, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately. If evidence has been illegally seized by police, an experience criminal attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence.