Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1997, a jury found David Edwin Wiede guilty of the second degree felony offense of possession of methamphetamine. The trial judge sentenced Wiede to 10 years of imprisonment and assessed a $2,000 fine. The trial judge then decided to probate Wiede’s 10-year sentence of imprisonment, placing Wiede on community supervision for a period of 10 years. The state filed a motion to revoke Wiede’s community supervision and to impose sentence in October 2002. In the motion, the state alleged that Wiede, on April 17, 2002, during the period of his community supervision, possessed a controlled substance. Wiede entered a plea of not true and filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized from his vehicle on April 17, 2002, contending that the controlled substance, methamphetamine, was obtained as a result of an illegal search. The arrest occurred on April 17, 2002, when Wiede crashed into the back of an 18-wheeler truck. Roy Tambunga, who was behind the 18-wheeler on Siebert Drive when it pulled onto FM 150, witnessed the accident. Tambunga testified at the suppression hearing that he got out of his car to see if Wiede was okay. Tambunga observed that Wiede looked dazed, was bleeding from his right arm and was moaning. Shortly after the accident, a group of Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers, who were on their way to the San Marcos Airport to conduct driver training for new recruits, drove up on the scene of the accident. Meanwhile, Tambunga saw Wiede reaching his left hand across his body “as if he was getting something out of his pocket” and then “hide something between the seat, the driver’s seat and the console.” Tambunga told a local law enforcement officer what he had observed. A DPS chemist testified that the bag seized from Wiede’s car contained 1.76 grams of methamphetamine. Authorities subsequently charged Wiede with failing to have liability insurance and control his speed. The trial judge denied Wiede’s motion to suppress. The trial judge granted the state’s motion to revoke Wiede’s community supervision and sentenced Wiede to 10 years of imprisonment. Wiede appealed. The 3rd Court of Appeals reversed, holding that officers lacked probable cause to search the car. HOLDING:The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the judgment of the trial court. The CCA held that 3rd Court erred in concluding that the state’s probable cause argument was weakened by Tambunga’s testimony concerning the cause of the accident. The 3rd Court should not have eliminated the accident as a relevant fact and circumstance in its probable cause analysis, the court stated, in reviewing the trial judge’s decision to deny Wiede’s motion to suppress. Next, the CCA considered Wiede’s placement of the plastic bag between the seat and console. For a plastic bag to gain the significance attributed to it by the trial judge, there must be evidence that the seizing officer knew at the time of the search that drugs are commonly packaged in plastic bags. The CCA found that the 3rd Court failed to give sufficient deference to the trial court’s implicit fact determinations when it stated there was no evidence that the officer who searched the car had such knowledge that drugs are commonly carried in plastic bags. Trooper Christopher McGuairt, who had been employed by DPS for seven years at the time of the suppression hearing, testified that he was trained to recognize different types of controlled substances. He further testified that based on Tambunga’s description of what Wiede removed from his pocket and placed in the console area, “that it may have been some type of contraband” or “controlled substance.” Although probable cause is viewed objectively, McGuairt’s testimony about his training and his opinion concerning the contents of the plastic bag provided a basis from which the trial judge could have reasonably inferred that McGuairt possessed specific knowledge that drugs are commonly packaged, carried, or transported in plastic bags. The CCA noted that the officer who searched Wiede’s car was never identified and did not testify at the suppression hearing. Despite this, the CCA stated that the record contained evidence from which the trial judge could have reasonably inferred that the searching officer knew, at the time of the search, that drugs are commonly carried in plastic bags. Finally, the CCA stated that the 3rd Court disregarded the suspicious circumstances in which, shortly after the accident, the injured Wiede removed the plastic bag and placed it between his seat and console. Viewing the objective facts and circumstances of this particular case in total, and giving great deference to the trial judge’s fact-findings, the CCA held that the court of appeals erred in finding that the officer who searched Wiede’s car did so without probable cause. OPINION:Keasler, J., delivered the opinion of the court in which Keller, P.J., and Meyers, Price, Womack, Hervey and Cochran, J.J., joined. CONCURRENCE:Johnson and Holcomb, J.J., concurred without an opinion.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.