Judge Denies Motion to Suppress in Quick Pat-Down Search at Traffic Stop

By Neha Malhi

RIVERSIDE, CA – A motion to suppress evidence was made in the first part of a preliminary hearing for Carlos Efrain Cobian here in Riverside County Superior Court Friday, and, despite strong arguments by the defense, the court was not moved to agree.

Cobian is accused of possessing a pipe that is used to smoke illegal drugs. According to the testimony of  the arresting officer, he was on patrol duty Sept. 19, 2020 when he noticed someone driving a vehicle with an obstructed license plate. 

He pulled over Cobian’s vehicle, and found that the driver, Cobian, did not have his driver’s license with him and, after checking records, it was revealed that his license was expired.

The officer also conducted a pat-down search during which he found a pipe in Cobian’s pocket. According to the testimony, the pipe had white residue on it. 

According to the defense, the evidence from the search should have been suppressed because the officers did not have probable cause to search him at the time of his arrest.

“Two vehicle code violations do not provide enough information in terms of doing a search, either a custodial search or pat-down search,” maintained the defense, insisting the pat-down search was a violation of the Fourth Amendment, and Cobian should only be charged with a misdemeanor related to the expired license and obstructed license plate.

The defense pointed to the case of Arizona v. Johnson, in which the Court of Appeals of Arizona reversed Johnson’s conviction and sentence. The conducted search was ruled illegal and unconstitutional because it was not conducted because of a concern over a police officer’s safety.

However, the judge denied the motion to suppress evidence and concluded, “I don’t see the violation that you are pointing to in this case. I think it was reasonable, appropriate and did not violate Cobian’s constitutional rights.”

The preliminary hearing is set to resume Nov. 23 in Riverside County Superior Court.

About The Author

Koda is an incoming senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.

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