Friday, October 23, 2009

Blackhawk County Drug Stop

State v. Vance, No. 08-1762 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 21, 2009)

A police officer observed a vacant car parked legally but in an odd manner. A check revealed it belonged to one Athena Smith whose license was suspended. Some minutes later the officer saw the vehicle on the highway but could not determine who was in the car because of the lateness of the hour.

Stopping the vehicle, the officer observed that Vance was driving solo. Further inquiry revealed that Vance was barred. From his pockets, Vance removed a syringe, a spoon with burn marks and a wooden spoon with methamphetamine residue on it. The officer smelled a heavy chemical odor coming from the car and found freshly manufactured methamphetamine on the front seat. Numerous other items commonly used in manufacturing methamphetamine were found in the car, the glove compartment and the trunk.

While in the back of the cruiser, Vance was recorded calling someone on his cell phone and saying "He's going to find the shit."

Vance was convicted of possessing pseudoephedrine and anhydrous ammonia with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Vance appealed on the sufficiency of the evidence, arguing that the state did not prove that he possessed the precursor with the intent to manufacture.

No pseudoephedrine was found in Vance's possession, although he had purchased it the same day, and he had a coffee grinder in the trunk with the residue of pseudoephedrine tablets and no coffee residue in it. In addition, police impounded numerous items in the car consistent with manufacture, including fresh product, lithium battery shells, ammonia, muriatic acid and used and unused coffee filters.

The court found that a reasonable jury could have concluded that Vance had possession of the 2.4 grams of pseudoephedrine he had purchased earlier in the day and had the requisite intent to manufacture.

Vance also raised a 4th amendment claim, arguing there was not reasonable cause to stop his vehicle. The court found that the officer had a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the driver could well be unlicensed and that was reason enough to detain the vehicle.


Post a Comment

<< Home