Thursday, January 21, 2016
Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues one opinion today
In Antonio Garcia v. State of Indiana, a 14-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice David writes:
In August 2012, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Phillip Robinett conducted a routine traffic stop. Upon making the stop, he discovered that the driver, Antonio Garcia, was driving without a valid driver’s license. Garcia was lawfully placed under arrest. Before Officer Robinett placed Garcia in his police cruiser to be transported to the police station, he conducted a quick pat-down search of Garcia’s clothing in order to check for weapons. A cylinder-shaped pill container was found in Garcia’s pocket. Officer Robinett opened the container to check what it contained. The content was later confirmed to be a single narcotic pill, which Garcia did not have a valid prescription for.
Garcia was charged with driving without a license and possession of a controlled substance. At trial, Garcia sought to suppress the admission of the pill container and its contents as the fruit of an unlawful search under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. It was not disputed that Officer Robinett was free to conduct a warrantless pat-down search of Garcia’s person incident to his arrest. Rather, Garcia only challenged the opening of the pill container as being an unreasonable search.
We disagree with Garcia’s contention that opening the pill container during the course of the pat-down search incident to his arrest constituted an unreasonable search. As such, we affirm the trial court’s denial of Garcia’s motion to suppress and hold that the search of Garcia incident to his arrest was reasonable under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. * * *
We affirm the trial court’s denial of Garcia’s motion to suppress the pill container found on his person during a search incident to a valid arrest. In doing so, we hold that the search of Garcia’s person, which included opening the container, was within the scope of a search incident to a lawful arrest and reasonable under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution.
Rush, C.J., Dickson and Massa, J.J., concur.
Rucker, J., concurs in result only.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 21, 2016 03:02 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions