State of Utah v Gomez concerns a search and seizure case where the defendant was found guilty of possessing a variety of illegal drugs.
The Events Leading to the Drug Seizure
Gomez and two other people were in a rental car that was stopped by a police officer due to a taillight violation. After doing a routine check, the officer further questioned the occupants as well as ordered a K-9 drug dog unit. The dog didn’t find any drugs, but the officer had reasonable suspicion that there were drugs involved. He found out that Gomez was staying in a local hotel and requested that the man allow him to search his hotel room.
Gomez initially denied permission to perform a search but later consented. When they arrived at Gomez’s hotel room, the officer found cocaine, marijuana, a digital scale and a measuring spoon. Gomez admitted the drugs were his and was arrested.
Gomez was charged with several crimes and moved to suppress the hotel room evidence. The trial court denied his motion and he pleaded guilty, conditionally, to all three counts while reserving the right to appeal the suppression issue.
Gomez’s appeal was based on his belief that he was illegally detained during the initial traffic stop. The appeals court applied a two-step test to see if the traffic stop was reasonable.
• Step 1—was the police officer justified in stopping the car in the first place?
• Step 2—was the detention of the car’s occupants reasonably related to the reason the officer first stopped the car?
The court of appeals found no supporting evidence in State of Utah v Gomez that would require the police officer to ignore his initial and subsequent observations prior to requesting a search of the defendant’s hotel room. The trial court’s decision was upheld, as were Gomez’s convictions.
The opportunity to have a defense if you are charged with a crime is one of America’s fundamental beliefs. It’s also important to know that you can appeal certain sentences or parts of your case if you believe there was a miscarriage of justice.
Contact a Utah criminal defense attorney immediately if you’ve been charged with any crime. You deserve to have the best defense possible, and an experienced attorney can help make sure your side of the story is told.