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Photo of Dean Stowers and James Nelsen
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Experienced lawyers helping people in Des Moines just like you.

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Judge throws out felony drug case after client retains Stowers & Nelsen

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2021 | Firm News

Felony Marijuana Distribution Charges

Dean Stowers and Peter Ickes successfully argued a motion to suppress evidence obtained during a vehicle search, resulting in dismissal of the prosecution. Our client was driving a rental vehicle with New Jersey plates on Interstate 80 in Dallas County when Iowa State Patrol Trooper Spencer Baltes pulled him over for allegedly following too closely. The trooper said he would only issue a warning if the client’s driver’s license came back valid, yet he directed our client to sit in his patrol car. Trooper Baltes admitted this was done for the purpose of conducting a “motorist interview” designed to determine if our client was traveling for a “lawful purpose,” as part of the trooper’s interdiction training.

While in the squad car, the trooper asked detailed questions about our client’s travel plans and destination, and googled various information to check out our client’s travel statements. This questioning and searching was determined to have extended the stop for following to closely by many minutes. After all this questioning and internet searching, the Trooper claimed he had cause to further detain our client for a drug dog to arrive. Some 50 minutes later a dog arrived and reacted to the odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle which contained perhaps 30 pounds. Our client was arrested and held in jail for 6 days prior to being bonded out.

This is the fourth case in the last several years where our office has turned back the Iowa State Patrol’s illegal interdiction practices during routine stops, yet they continue to violate what is now settled law rejecting these practices. The law is clear that an officer violates a motorist’s rights when they prolong a stop for a routine traffic violation in an attempt to develop a further basis to detain the person. Police are required to complete the basis of the stop in an expeditious manner and to not expand their stop into other investigative inquiries that prolong the stop unless they have first developed reasonable suspicion to do so.

The court ordered that all evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful prolongation of the stop be thrown excluded as it was illegally procured. Without any admissible evidence, the state was forced to dismiss its case, and our client walked out of the courtroom as if he was never charged at all.

If you or anyone you know has been charged with a crime arising from a search of a vehicle stopped during a routine traffic stop, no other lawyer or law firm has more expertise and proven results in these types of cases than Stowers & Nelsen ( Call Stowers & Nelsen at 515-224-7446, so we can help.