A state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan drug case requiring the court to determine whether the defendant had standing to bring his motion to suppress. The concept of standing refers to a defendant’s legal ability to bring a motion or ask the court for a certain remedy. In a motion to suppress, courts have held that the defendant must have a subjective expectation of privacy in the area that was searched. In addition, the defendant’s expectation of privacy must be an objectively reasonable one.
According to the court’s opinion, police were conducting a drug trafficking investigation. Undercover officers were working with a confidential informant (CI), who introduced the officers to a woman who knew the defendant. Police purchased drugs from the woman several times. She explained that she obtained the drugs from the defendant.
Officers obtained a search warrant for the woman’s motel room, where they found some cocaine as well as her cell phone. The next day, a police officer responded to a text message that was sent by the defendant, pretending to be the woman. Posing as the woman, the officer told the defendant he could come over to her motel room.
When the defendant arrived, the police questioned him, and the defendant admitted to selling drugs. The defendant was arrested and charged accordingly. In a pre-trial motion to suppress, the defendant argued that his statements to police admitting he was a drug dealer should be suppressed. Specifically, the defendant argued that his statements were illegally obtained based on his reasonable expectation of privacy in his text-message conversation with the woman.
The court rejected the defendant’s argument, finding that he had no standing to bring the motion. The court first noted that to bring a motion to suppress, a defendant must have an expectation of privacy in the item that was subject to search. Here, none of the defendant’s belongings were subject to search. Indeed, the officers only used the woman’s phone to send a text to the defendant.
The court noted that factors tending to show standing include, “ownership, possession, control of the area searched or item seized, as well as historical use of the item and ability to regulate access.” Here, the court held that the defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the content of the messages because he did not own, or was not in possession of the woman’s phone. Because he lacked an expectation of privacy in the item searched, the court determined the defendant lacked standing to bring his motion to suppress.
Have You Been Arrested for a Michigan Drug Crime?
If you have recently been arrested for a Michigan drug offense, contact Attorney Paul J. Tafelski. Attorney Tafelski is a dedicated Michigan criminal defense attorney with extensive experience representing clients charged with serious felony and misdemeanor offenses across Michigan. His offices are conveniently located in Bloomfield Hills, where he offers free consultations to prospective clients to discuss their case and how he can help. To learn more, call 248-451-2200 to schedule a free consultation today.