Criminal Trial Court of
STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS,
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT
ESTRADA’S MOTION TO SUPRESS
Defendant Cruz Estrada submits this memorandum of law in support of defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence seized from the defendant’s purse and to suppress the evidence collected from the audio recording of Cruz Estrada’s conversation with Luis Briones.
Was Cruz Estrada’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure violated when Officer Green grabbed Cruz Estrada’s purse from her shoulder and searched it without her consent, and can the evidence found in Cruz Estrada’s purse be suppressed due to the search being impermissible? 2.
Did the impermissible search of Cruz Estrada’s purse cause her to make incriminating statements during her recorded conversation with Luis Briones in the back of the officer’s patrol car and can this tape recorded conversation be suppressed on these grounds?
Cruz Estrada (hereon known as Estrada) was riding with her friend, Luis Briones (hereon known as Briones), when Briones' car was pulled over by Officer Green. They were traveling south on I-95 toward Miami to visit friends. Officer Green said he had stopped the car because they were speeding.
Officer Green stood at the window on the driver's side and asked for Briones' license and car registration. While Briones searched his wallet for the documents, Officer Green noticed a glass vial containing small kernels of an off-white substance in Briones’ lap. Believing the vial to contain crack cocaine, the officer announced that he was seizing it. He asked Briones and Estrada to exit the car and asked Briones for his wallet.
Estrada got out of the car with her purse strap slung over her shoulder. Officer Green approached her and said, "You don't mind if I search this, do you?" Without giving her time to respond, Officer Green grabbed her purse and began to search it. Inside her purse, he found a brown paper envelope. Estrada claimed that someone had given it to her to give to a friend in Miami.
Still holding Estrada’s purse and Briones’ wallet, the officer asked them to wait in the patrol car while he searched Briones’ car. Estrada and Briones nervously waited in the back seat of the patrol car. Estrada admitted to Briones that the envelope was hers and that it contained illegal drugs.
After she and Briones were arrested, she discovered that the police officer had tape-recorded their conversation in the back of the patrol car. Briones told her that the reason the officer gave for stopping them must have been a pretext because, at the most, he was driving five miles over the speed limit. He said he suspected that he had been stopped for what is jokingly referred to as the offense of DWH or 'Driving While Hispanic'.
THE COURT SHOULD SUPRESS THE EVIDENCE FOUND WITHIN ESTRADA’S PURSE ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE SEARCH OF HER PURSE VIOLATED HER FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCH AND SEIZURE, AND ANY EVIDENCE FOUND WITH IT BE SUPRESSED AS FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE.
The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right of the people “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and allows a search warrant to be issued only upon probable cause.” U.S.C.S. Const. Amend. 4 (2005). Throughout the years these rights have been guarded with the utmost care, regard and consideration because these rights allow people, like Cruz Estrada, to live their lives without fear of intrusion or invasion of privacy by the government: Commonwealth V. Gonsalves, 429 Mass. 658 (1999), Commonwealth v. Torres, 433 Mass. 669 (2001), Commonwealth v. Rostad, 410 Mass. 618, 622 (1991). Justice Ireland noted in his concurring opinion in Commonwealth v. Gonsalves that...
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