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State v. Lucas

Court of Appeals of Georgia

June 10, 2015

THE STATE
v.
LUCAS

Motion to suppress. Gwinnett Superior Court. Before Judge Schrader.

Judgment reversed.

Daniel J. Porter, District Attorney, John A. Warr, Karen M. West, Assistant District Attorneys, for appellant.

William C. Rhodes, for appellee.

BRANCH, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and Miller, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 420

Branch, Judge.

The State appeals the trial court's grant of a motion to suppress evidence seized in a search incident to arrest. For the reasons stated below, we reverse.

The record shows that officers stopped Datavious Demon Lucas for speeding, learned that Lucas had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, arrested Lucas, and discovered contraband during the search incident to arrest. Lucas was charged with possession of a controlled substance (Alprazolam), possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and speeding. Lucas moved to suppress the evidence obtained in the search, the trial court granted the motion, and the State appeals that decision. In the trial court, Lucas did not challenge the validity of the stop or that a search was authorized incident to an arrest.[1] Rather, he argued that his arrest was illegal because it was based on an invalid arrest warrant, which was allegedly issued for his fraternal twin brother Datravious Deon Lucas, and that the State never produced any warrant for the defendant during discovery or at the hearing on the motion to suppress.

When a defendant moves to suppress evidence, " the burden of proving that the search and seizure were lawful shall be on the state." OCGA § 17-5-30 (b). When the appellate courts review a trial court's decision on a motion to suppress evidence, " the trial court's findings on disputed facts will be upheld unless clearly erroneous, and its application of the law to undisputed facts is subject to de novo review." Barrett v. State, 289 Ga. 197, 200 (1) (709 S.E.2d 816) (2011) (citation omitted).

Here, in its order granting the motion to suppress, the trial court found the following facts:

On July 3, 2013, City of Lilburn Police Officer Cody Belcher ... observed Officer Bowles stop a vehicle for speeding inside the city limits of Lilburn; Defendant was the driver. [332 Ga.App. 464] Officer Bowles asked Defendant for his driver's license, but he was unable to produce it. Instead, Defendant gave the officer his name and date of birth. Officer Bowles ran the information on [the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC)] and learned that Defendant had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Defendant stated that the warrant was actually for his twin brother. Officer Bowles then called Gwinnett County Probation to verify the information, and a probation officer advised that Defendant had a tattoo of a pit bull on his right shoulder. Upon seeing the confirmatory tattoo on Defendant's shoulder, the officer placed Defendant in handcuffs and told him to stand by the car.
A police unit later arrived with a rapid identification [device], which takes an image of a person's fingerprint and determines whether the person has any outstanding warrants. Upon scanning Defendant's fingers, the test confirmed an outstanding warrant for the name Defendant provided and produced a photograph of Defendant, which matched Defendant's appearance. Consequently, the officers arrested Defendant, and a search incident to his arrest revealed the subject contraband.

The court also noted that the State did not produce an arrest warrant for Lucas either in discovery or in ...


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