DELAWARE SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS VEHICLE SEARCH

The Delaware Supreme Court upheld drug and driving charges against Brandon Hill.

New Castle County, Delaware Police conducted random vehicle registration searches along Route 273. They stopped Hill and discovered that he had a suspended license, lacked proper registration and proof of insurance. Officer Torres ran Hill’s record. It came back that he may be armed and dangerous. After a back up officer arrived Hill was pat searched. They found $390 in cash 1 and a number of cell phones. They then requested and received permission to search the vehicle, They ordered a dog to sniff the vehicle. They found two large plastic bags filled with 32 plastic baggies containing crack cocaine and six Oxycodone pills.

On appeal Hill asserted that the police had no reason to detain him after the pat search and that everything seized after the search must be suppressed. But Hill’s counsel failed to raise this issue in the trial court and therefore the appellate court will only reverse the decision if there was plain error. The Supreme Court refused to do so. It found the officers had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based upon Hill’s driving without a license, the information that he may be armed and dangerous, 2 nervous fidgeting and the finding of the money and the cell phones.

Considering all of these issues the court found that the denial of the search motion was not Hill plain error and it affirmed the conviction.

Notes:

  1. Why the money was taken out of his pocket during a pat search I do not know.
  2. a computer printout reading that Hill may be armed and dangerous is no proof of current criminal activity in my book.

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