Worth County, Iowa
A GRL Law client was stopped after an off-duty officer saw the client’s vehicle make contact with the concrete base of a light pole in a Dollar General parking lot. The contact did not cause damage to the pole and the contact was very minimal, so the driver continued on his way. The best part?? The client had HIS OWN in-car high-definition dash camera which captured these events and was later submitted to the court as evidence that no crime occurred. The off-duty officer called dispatch who informed a uniformed officer to conduct the stop. After the stop was initiated, the officer investigated and ultimately arrested the client for OWI. GRL Law attorney Grant Gangestad filed a motion to suppress evidence claiming that the officers did not have a valid reason to conduct the stop and that the stop was unconstitutional. The District Court disagreed, finding that the stop was legal. The issue was then appealed to Iowa’s appellate courts.
On appeal, the Iowa Court of Appeals held that the officer did not have the required suspicion to believe that the client committed the crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving personal property because nothing in the statute required him to stay at the scene of the accident. The Court also found that the crime of “failure to maintain control” could not be justification for the stop because the accident did not occur on a public road or highway as required by that code section. Finally, the Court found that there was no evidence that the client committed the crime of criminal mischief because there was no evidence that the client intentionally damaged a light pole. Because there was no valid reason for the stop, the Court found that the motion to suppress evidence of the stop should have been granted. Thanks to the forward-thinking of the client by having his own in-car camera capturing the events and the detailed and relentless defense employed by GRL Law, the stop of the client’s vehicle was overturned and all evidence obtained as a result of the stop was thrown out of court, including the breath alcohol evidence used to revoke the client’s license.