3rd Circuit Rules That Tip From Reliable Source Plus Dark Window Tint Does Not Provide Reasonable Suspicion to Stop and Search a Vehicle
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently handed down a significant decision concerning evidence suppression in U.S. v. Lewis.
After receiving a tip from a reliable source that individuals in a white Toyota Camry were carrying firearms, police officers in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle. During the traffic stop, a firearm was discovered on the driver, Defendant Ahmoi Lewis. The source provided no details about the legal status of the firearms, and when making the stop, an officer testified that the tints on the vehicle’s windows exceeded the threshold permissible under Virgin Islands law. The officer who initiated the traffic stop did not testify. Before pleading guilty to two firearm offenses, Lewis unsuccessfully moved to suppress the firearm as the fruit of an unlawful search and seizure. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion.
The appellate court determined that suppression was warranted under the Fourth Amendment because (1) the excessive tints did not provided a legal justification for the traffic stop since the only logical conclusion was that the tints were a contrived, after-the-fact explanation for the traffic stop, and there was no testimony that any officer observed a traffic violation prior to the initiation of the traffic stop, and (2) absent any information about the criminality of the firearms, the tip that individuals in the vehicle were carrying firearms in the Virgin Islands, in and of itself, did not provide officers with reasonable suspicion to conduct a Terry stop.
The appellate court vacated defendant’s judgment of conviction and sentence, reversed the denial of his motion to suppress, and remanded for further proceedings.
Those accused of crimes are entitled to the protections of the Constitution of the United States. An experienced criminal defense attorney ensures a defendant’s rights are protected. If you have been charged with, or convicted of an offense, you still have rights which the Law Offices of Marc Neff can protect. For a confidential consultation, please contact our office at 215-563-9800 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org