Motion to Suppress Granted – Gun and Drug Charges Dropped for Car Passenger

S.H. was charged with Possession of a Firearm Prohibited, Carrying a Firearm without a License, Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia, and Possession of a Controlled Substance. The Commonwealth alleged that S.H. was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for traffic violations. S.H. gave the police a name and birthdate, upon request, but police were unable to find anyone matching that name in their search. As a result, they thought that S.H. had given them a false name.

The police pulled S.H. from the car, placed him in handcuffs, and escorted him to the police car for further investigation. However, S.H. attempted to run from the police and, when they caught him, a gun fell from his pants. The police arrested S.H., searched the car, and recovered drugs. Police questioned S.H., and he admitted that the gun and the drugs were his.

Attorney Joseph Coleman filed a Motion to Suppress, asking the court to suppress (not allow into evidence) the gun, the drugs, and S.H.’s statement because the police lacked a legal reason to detain S.H. The constitution requires that police have reasonable suspicion that a defendant has committed a crime before they may detain him, or probable cause he committed a crime before they may arrest him. If these requirements are not met, then the stop or arrest is illegal, and any evidence obtained as a result of the stop or arrest must be suppressed.

Specifically, Mr. Coleman argued that S.H. was doing anything criminal, as he was merely a passenger in a car pulled over for a traffic violation. The police admitted during cross-examination that S.H. had committed no crimes and that they had no reason to believe that he was armed with a weapon. The only reason that they detained S.H. was because they thought he had given them a fake name.

However, S.H. had no obligation to provide the police with his name, as the crime of False Identification to Law Enforcement requires that police advise an individual that they are under “official investigation.” The police admitted that they never told S.H. that he was under official investigation, and there was nothing to officially investigate him for as a passenger in a traffic stop. Utilizing his knowledge of appellate court decisions, Mr. Coleman pointed to law that explicitly states that the police cannot use the defendant’s failure to provide a correct name as the basis for the “official investigation.”

After strenuous arguments by both sides, the court granted the Motion to Suppress the gun, the drugs, and S.H.’s statement. The court agreed with Mr. Coleman that S.H. had no obligation to provide a name, and he was doing nothing illegal by being a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation. As the Commonwealth was left with no evidence to support a conviction, they dropped all charges against S.H. Refuse to Lose! Read here to learn more about gun charges.

“Joe Coleman is a real good attorney beat my gun and drug case with no hassle, got me off conviction free now I can go back to college, he’s very persistent, motivated and dedicated he is the man for the job 💯”-S.H.