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Texas Courts of Appeals
No. 06-17-00081-CR 10/4/17
Does a defendant’s statement to an officer during a traffic stop that there is an open container inside the vehicle amount to probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of the vehicle?
Yes. Under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement a warrantless search may be conducted when an officer has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and contraband is located in the vehicle. Probable cause exists when an officer has “reasonable trustworthy information sufficient to warrant a reasonable belief that an offense has been or is being committed.” In this case, the officer smelled alcohol emanating from the vehicle and the defendant admitted there was “probably [an open container] in a trash bag” inside the vehicle. These facts constitute probable cause for the officer to conduct a warrantless search. Read opinion.
The defendant argued that his admission that there might be an open container in the vehicle did not mean that he was admitting that there was an open container of alcohol. The court had little difficulty rejecting that claim. In context, the defendant and the officer were clearly talking about alcohol. To top it off, while the officer searched for the open container, the defendant admitted that there was marijuana in the vehicle, and that gave the officer probable cause to search for that as well. The officer found the marijuana, and that was the basis for the defendant’s conviction.
Texas Attorney General Opinions
If a county attorney properly has a private practice law office in addition to the county office, is there a legal requirement as to how much time the attorney must spend in the county office versus his private practice law office? Read request.
TDCAA is now shipping its 2017 code books. For more information or to place an order, visit http://www.tdcaa.com/publications.