Trammell v. State, A20A1942

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtMcFadden, Chief Judge.
Citation851 S.E.2d 834,357 Ga.App. 848
Parties TRAMMELL v. The STATE.
Docket NumberA20A1942
Decision Date20 November 2020

357 Ga.App. 848
851 S.E.2d 834



Court of Appeals of Georgia.

November 20, 2020

851 S.E.2d 835

Rebecca Ellen Messinger, for Appellant.

Carroll Rudolph Chisholm Jr., Sara Jessica Adams, for Appellee.

McFadden, Chief Judge.

357 Ga.App. 848

Craig Trammell was charged by accusation with possessing a false identification document in violation of OCGA § 16-9-4 (b) (6). Trammell pled not guilty to the charge and moved to suppress evidence seized by police officers during a search incident to a warrantless arrest. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the motion, finding that the officers had probable cause to arrest Trammell for disorderly conduct and that the search incident to the arrest was therefore valid.

The trial court issued a certificate of immediate review and Trammell filed an application for interlocutory appeal. The application

357 Ga.App. 849

was granted and this appeal followed. We reverse the denial of the motion to suppress

851 S.E.2d 836

because the trial court erred in finding that the officers had probable cause to arrest Trammell for disorderly conduct.

1. Facts.

"When reviewing the grant or denial of a motion to suppress, an appellate court must construe the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the trial court's factual findings and judgment. An appellate court also generally must limit its consideration of the disputed facts to those expressly found by the trial court." Caffee v. State , 303 Ga. 557, 814 S.E.2d 386 (2018) (citations and punctuation omitted). An "appellate court[ ] must focus on the facts found by the trial court in its order , as the trial court sits as the trier of fact." Id. at 559 (1), 814 S.E.2d 386 (citation and punctuation omitted; emphasis in original).

Here, the trial court found in its order that at 1:30 a. m. on June 2, 2019, two officers were outside a bar in downtown Athens when they witnessed bar staff pulling Trammell down stairs and escorting him out of the bar. Trammell was pulling away from the staff and yelling profanities. The officers approached Trammell and "[w]hen they put their hands on him, he told them not to touch him and to ‘walk away down the street.’ " The court further found that Trammell appeared agitated and aggressive, that the officers arrested him for disorderly conduct, and that "[s]ubsequent to the arrest, the officers searched Mr. Trammell and located an identification that is the basis for the charge in this case."

2. Search incident to arrest.

"Searches conducted without a warrant are unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment unless they fall within a well-established exception to the warrant requirement, including ... searches incident to a lawful arrest." Evans v. State , 308 Ga. 582, 588 (3) (b), 842 S.E.2d 837 (2020) (citation and punctuation omitted).

A warrantless arrest by a law officer is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment where there is probable cause to believe that a criminal offense has been or is being committed The United States Supreme Court repeatedly has explained that probable cause to justify an arrest means facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge that are sufficient to warrant a prudent person, or one of reasonable caution, in believing, in the circumstances shown, that the suspect has committed, is committing, or is about to commit an offense.

Westbrook v. State , 308 Ga. 92, 95 (2), 839 S.E.2d 620 (2020) (citations and punctuation omitted).

357 Ga.App. 850

In the instant case, the officers arrested Trammell for disorderly conduct. OCGA § 16-11-39 (a) (1-4) sets forth four different methods by which a person...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT