Johnson v. State, No. 49A02–1301–CR–28.

Docket NºNo. 49A02–1301–CR–28.
Citation992 N.E.2d 955
Case DateAugust 20, 2013
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

992 N.E.2d 955

Gregory JOHNSON, Appellant–Defendant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee–Plaintiff.

No. 49A02–1301–CR–28.

Court of Appeals of Indiana.

Aug. 20, 2013.


[992 N.E.2d 956]


Suzy St. John, Marion County Public Defender Agency, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Appellant.

Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, George Sherman, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.


OPINION

BARNES, Judge.
Case Summary

Gregory Johnson appeals his conviction for Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana. We affirm.

Issue

The sole issue is whether the trial court properly admitted evidence recovered as a result of a traffic stop of Johnson's vehicle.

Facts

On May 29, 2012, Officer Keith Minch of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department pulled over a Dodge Caravan minivan driven by Johnson because of Officer Minch's belief that the rear window of the vehicle was too darkly tinted, so that he “could not see through it clearly enough to identify the occupants inside and describe them to the point that the

[992 N.E.2d 957]

law allows.” Tr. p. 7. After receiving identification from Johnson, Officer Minch discovered that Johnson's driver's license was suspended. Officer Minch then placed Johnson under arrest. During a pat down search incident to arrest, Officer Minch found several bags of marijuana inside a pocket of Johnson's pants.

The State charged Johnson with Class A misdemeanor dealing in marijuana and Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Johnson filed a motion to suppress the marijuana, arguing that the initial stop of his vehicle was illegal because his windows were not illegally tinted. The trial court did not hold a separate motion to suppress hearing but considered it during Johnson's bench trial, which was held on December 17, 2012. During that trial, Johnson presented uncontradicted evidence that the tint on the minivan was factory standard for Dodge Caravans for that year and of that type.1 The trial court refused to suppress the marijuana; it acquitted Johnson of dealing in marijuana and convicted him of possession of marijuana. Johnson now appeals.

Analysis

The trial court here essentially held a hearing on Johnson's motion to suppress in conjunction with his trial and seemed to rule on the matter as a question of admissibility of evidence. We review a ruling concerning the admissibility of evidence for an abuse of discretion. Kelley v. State, 825 N.E.2d 420, 424 (Ind.Ct.App.2005). “An abuse of discretion occurs when a decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before the court.” Id. We cannot reweigh the evidence or judge witness credibility, and must consider conflicting evidence in a light most favorable to the trial court's ruling. Lindsey v. State, 916 N.E.2d 230, 238 (Ind.Ct.App.2009), trans. denied. It also is well-settled that when reviewing the constitutionality of a search or seizure, we must also examine “any uncontested evidence favorable to the appellant.” Fair v. State, 627 N.E.2d 427, 434 (Ind.1993).2 “Although a trial court's determination of historical facts is entitled to deferential review, we employ a de novo standard when reviewing the trial court's ultimate determinations of reasonable suspicion and probable cause.” Lindsey, 916 N.E.2d at 238. In other words, when a trial court has admitted evidence alleged to have been discovered as the result of an illegal search or seizure, we generally will assume the trial court accepted the evidence presented by the State and will not reweigh that evidence, but we owe no deference as to whether that evidence established the constitutionality of a search or seizure.

Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a seizure in the form of a traffic stop is permissible if an officer has at least reasonable suspicion

[992 N.E.2d 958]

that a traffic law, or other law, has been violated. Sanders v. State, 989 N.E.2d 332, 335 (Ind.2013). Whether reasonable suspicion for a seizure existed requires examination of the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the detaining officer had a particularized and objective basis for suspecting legal wrongdoing. L.W. v. State, 926 N.E.2d 52, 55 (Ind.Ct.App.2010). The reasonable suspicion requirement is met where the facts known to the officer, together with the reasonable inferences arising from such facts, would cause an ordinarily prudent person to believe illegal activity has occurred or is about to occur. Id. Reasonable suspicion cannot be based only upon an officer's general “hunches” or unparticularized suspicions. Id.

Recently, in Sanders, our supreme court highlighted the deference to be given to police officers who have pulled over a vehicle for a perceived violation of Indiana Code Section 9–19–19–4, the Indiana Window Tint Statute.3 The statute provides in part:

A person may not drive a motor vehicle that has a:

(1) windshield;

(2) side wing;

(3) side window that is part of a front door; or

(4) rear back window;

that is covered by or treated with sunscreening material or is tinted to the extent or manufactured in a way that the occupants of the vehicle cannot be easily identified or recognized through that window from...

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18 practice notes
  • Jacobs v. State, No. 49A02–1601–CR–19.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 7, 2016
    ...circumstances show “the detaining officer had a particularized and objective basis for suspecting legal wrongdoing.” [ Johnson v. State, 992 N.E.2d 955, 958 (Ind.Ct.App.2013), trans. denied ]. During such an investigatory stop, a police officer may conduct areasonable search for weapons for......
  • McGrath v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 49A04-1610-CR-2270
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 31, 2017
    ...substantial basis determination de novo." McCollum , 63 N.E.3d at 9 (citing Jaggers , 687 N.E.2d at 182 ).17] In Johnson v. State , 992 N.E.2d 955, 957 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. denied , (internal citation omitted), in a case involving a traffic stop, not the issuance of a search warrant......
  • Bell v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 49A05-1606-CR-1390
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 14, 2017
    ...evidence, but we owe no deference as to whether that evidence established the constitutionality of a search or seizure. Johnson v. State, 992 N.E.2d 955, 957 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. denied.1. Initial Stop8 [9] Bell asserts that although Officer Gough "was within his right to stop Bell ......
  • State v. Carlson, No. 2 CA-CR 2015-0098
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • January 20, 2016
    ...the occupant inside,'" combined with fact "the actual tint closely border[ed] the statutory limit" sufficient); Johnson v. State, 992 N.E.2d 955, 958-59 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013) (officer's testimony he could not "clearly identify the vehicle's occupants" at time of stop sufficient); State v. Ki......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • Jacobs v. State, No. 49A02–1601–CR–19.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 7, 2016
    ...circumstances show “the detaining officer had a particularized and objective basis for suspecting legal wrongdoing.” [ Johnson v. State, 992 N.E.2d 955, 958 (Ind.Ct.App.2013), trans. denied ]. During such an investigatory stop, a police officer may conduct areasonable search for weapons for......
  • McGrath v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 49A04-1610-CR-2270
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 31, 2017
    ...substantial basis determination de novo." McCollum , 63 N.E.3d at 9 (citing Jaggers , 687 N.E.2d at 182 ).17] In Johnson v. State , 992 N.E.2d 955, 957 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. denied , (internal citation omitted), in a case involving a traffic stop, not the issuance of a search warrant......
  • Bell v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 49A05-1606-CR-1390
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 14, 2017
    ...evidence, but we owe no deference as to whether that evidence established the constitutionality of a search or seizure. Johnson v. State, 992 N.E.2d 955, 957 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. denied.1. Initial Stop8 [9] Bell asserts that although Officer Gough "was within his right to stop Bell ......
  • State v. Carlson, No. 2 CA-CR 2015-0098
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • January 20, 2016
    ...the occupant inside,'" combined with fact "the actual tint closely border[ed] the statutory limit" sufficient); Johnson v. State, 992 N.E.2d 955, 958-59 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013) (officer's testimony he could not "clearly identify the vehicle's occupants" at time of stop sufficient); State v. Ki......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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