Stowers & Nelsen has again obtained a complete dismissal of criminal drug charges after uncovering an illegal search conducted by law enforcement. This is the latest achievement in a long line of winning evidence suppression motions that the firm is well-known for.
The Illegal Search
In this case, a state trooper followed our client in her vehicle through downtown Des Moines under the premise of her car registration being expired. However, instead of pulling her over immediately he watched her park and enter a building to run an errand for about 10 minutes before confronting her when she returned to her vehicle. As he interrogated her at her car door he claimed to smell a faint odor of marijuana drifting out of the car. Based upon this, he declared that he had probable cause to conduct an invasive search of the vehicle. After a search of the vehicle and her person, the trooper found a few expired prescription pills in her purse, but never found any marijuana. Nevertheless, the State proceeded to charge her with unlawful possession of a prescription drug, which is a serious misdemeanor in Iowa punishable by up to one year in prison.
Our attorneys took a look at the case and knew something seemed off. First, even though the trooper claimed to smell marijuana they did not find any in the vehicle. Second, our client’s purse had not been left in the car but kept on her when she was running her errand, so there was no reason to search it if the smell was in fact emanating from the vehicle. Based upon the facts of this case, we felt the search violated Article I, section 8 of Iowa Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the Untied States Constitution. We filed a motion to completely suppress any evidence uncovered by the illegal search upon her vehicle and person. After we filed the motion the State never even took the time to file a formal resistance: the prosecutor examined the case and agreed that the evidence was obtained in violation of our client’s constitutional rights. He dismissed the case entirely. Instead of having to deal with the headache of criminal proceedings our client walked out of the courthouse a free woman, with nothing hanging over her head. Our careful examination of the evidence and strategic action in the case kept her from a conviction that would have stayed on her record for life, affecting her job, family, and reputation.
Have you been the subject of an illegal search by the police? Are you worried about how criminal charges could affect you and your future? At Stowers & Nelsen, we have decades of experience advising our clients and obtaining outcomes for them such as happened in this case. Give our firm a call at 515-224-7446 to see if we can help you!