Our client was convicted in Jackson County Superior Court of marijuana trafficking and received a total sentence of twenty years.
We were retained to handle the appeal and argued that the search of his van, where the marijuana was discovered, was unlawful.
The client was driving a flatbed wrecker truck that had a van secured to its bed. He was then stopped by the police for a tag violation. After discovering that our client’s license was suspended, the officer arrested him and placed him in the patrol car. After his arrest, the officers found the keys to the van and proceeded to search it. Inside the van, two black duffel bags were found containing a large amount of marijuana.
The officers claimed that the search was a lawful “inventory search” that needed to be conducted prior to impounding the vehicles. At no time during the hearing on the Motion to Suppress did the State produce any evidence that the inventory searches of the locked van and the duffel bags were conducted in accordance with police department policy. In fact, there was no evidence presented at all to establish that the agency even had a policy concerning inventory searches.
On appeal, we argued that the inventory search of the locked van was unlawful as there was no evidence of a policy with respect to the opening of closed containers encountered during an inventory search. The Georgia Court of Appeals agreed, holding that “without evidence of such policy it is difficult, if not impossible, to conclude that the inventory was conducted pursuant to such policy and not simply a ‘rummaging’ to discover incriminating evidence. The inventory search here was therefore unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
As a result, the Court of Appeals reversed our client’s marijuana trafficking conviction.
Categories | Appeals,