Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sanchez v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

April 17, 2019

Nicanor C. SANCHEZ, Appellant
v.
The STATE of Texas, Appellee

          From the 175th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016CR7395 Honorable Catherine Torres-Stahl, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice, Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice, Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice

          OPINION

          PATRICIA O. ALVAREZ, JUSTICE

         A Bexar County jury found Appellant Nicanor Sanchez guilty of one count of driving while intoxicated and one count of driving while intoxicated with a child passenger. The trial court assessed punishment at five-years' confinement in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a $1, 500.00 fine. The trial court suspended and probated the confinement for a period seven years and placed Sanchez on community supervision.

         On appeal, Sanchez contends the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion to suppress because the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop and the trial court erred in denying his requested jury instruction. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On February 8, 2016, after drinking a twenty-four-ounce beer, Sanchez drove from a convenience store on Commerce Street to his residence. Sanchez testified that he and his girlfriend were at the convenience store when his girlfriend became sick and started throwing up in the truck; as a result, Sanchez had to drive the truck. At that time, Sanchez acknowledges he was taking approximately twelve or thirteen medications.

         Sanchez was traveling northbound on N.W. 24th Street as he approached the intersection of 24th Street and Poplar Street. Sanchez moved into the left-turn-only lane, but did not use his signal. Across the intersection, San Antonio Police Sergeant Brian Sullivan witnessed Sanchez change lanes without signaling and then turn left onto Poplar without signaling.

         Sergeant Sullivan turned right onto Poplar and followed a very slow-moving Sanchez for approximately one minute. During that time, Sergeant Sullivan witnessed Sanchez cross Poplar's midline and saw Sanchez drive on the left side of the roadway on several occasions. The officer turned on his emergency lights and Sanchez pulled into his driveway.

         When Sergeant Sullivan approached the door of Sanchez's vehicle, the officer immediately noticed the smell of alcohol, Sanchez's words were slurred, and his eyes were bloodshot. Sanchez acknowledged having been drinking. Sanchez agreed to perform the field sobriety tests, but contends he told the officer that he had recently suffered a stroke and that he needed his cane which was on the patio. Sanchez contends the officer refused to bring him the cane. Sanchez further contends that given his medical condition, he would not have been able to do the one-leg stand, regardless of whether he had consumed the twenty-four-ounce can of beer. Based on Sanchez's inability to perform field sobriety tests, Sanchez was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Sergeant Sullivan requested a search warrant for a blood specimen; the test results ultimately revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.157.

         Sanchez's case was called for trial on January 11, 2018. After the trial court denied the motion to suppress the matter was heard before a Bexar County jury. Sanchez stipulated to two prior DWI convictions and the jury found Sanchez guilty of driving while intoxicated and one count of driving while intoxicated with a child passenger. The trial court assessed punishment at five-years' confinement in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a $1, 500.00 fine. The trial court suspended and probated the confinement for a period of seven years and placed Sanchez on community supervision.

         On appeal, Sanchez contends the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion to suppress because the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop and the trial court erred in denying his requested article 38.23 jury instruction.

         Motion to Suppress

         A. Arguments of the Parties

         Sanchez contends that because the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop, the trial court erred in failing to suppress the evidence obtained following the stop. The State concedes Sanchez was arrested without a warrant, but counters Sergeant Sullivan witnessed Sanchez commit two traffic offenses and therefore Sergeant Sullivan possessed reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop.

         B. Standard of Review

         In a motion to suppress evidence based on a Fourth Amendment violation, "the defendant bears the initial burden of producing evidence rebutting the proper police conduct presumption. A defendant satisfies this burden by establishing that a search or seizure occurred without a warrant." Ford v. State, 158 S.W.3d 488, 492 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005) (footnote omitted); accord State v. Hneidy, 510 S.W.3d 458, 462 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2013, pet. ref'd). "Once the defendant has made this showing, the burden of proof shifts to the State where it is required to establish that the search was conducted pursuant to a warrant or was reasonable." Ford, 158 S.W.3d at 492 (citing Bishop v. State, 85 S.W.3d 819, 822 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002)); accord Hneidy, 510 S.W.3d at 462. We must, therefore, determine whether the State established that Sergeant Sullivan's traffic stop of Sanchez was reasonable.

         Reasonable suspicion is determined under the totality of the circumstances. Ford, 158 S.W.2d at 493; Hneidy, 510 S.W.3d at 463. An appellate court utilizes a bifurcated standard of review affording "almost total deference to the trial court's determination of historical facts [but] review[ing] de novo the trial court's application of law to facts not turning on credibility and demeanor." Ford, 158 S.W.3d at 493 (citing Guzman v. State, 955 S.W.2d 85, 88-89 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997)); Hneidy, 510 S.W.3d at 463. "Whether there was reasonable suspicion to detain [Sanchez] is not a function of [Sergeant Sullivan's] demeanor or credibility, but of the legal significance of the essentially uncontested facts. The ultimate question of whether [Sergeant Sullivan] was indeed 'justified in stopping' [Sanchez's vehicle], we review de novo." Leming v. State, 493 S.W.3d 552, 562 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016) (footnote omitted) (quoting Amador v. State, 221 S.W.3d 666, 673 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007)). If the trial court's ruling "is correct under any applicable theory of law," it must be sustained. Lerma v. State, 543 S.W.3d 184, 190 (Tex. Crim. App. 2018).

         C. Reasonable Suspicion

         The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches without a warrant. U.S. Const. amend. IV. "[N]ecessarily swift police action predicated upon the on-the-spot observations of the officer . . . must be tested by the Fourth Amendment's general proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures." Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20 (1968); see also Ramirez-Tamayo v. State, 537 S.W.3d 29, 36-37 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017). "[T]here is 'no ready test for determining reasonableness other than by balancing the need to search . . . against the invasion which the search . . . entails.'" Terry, 392 U.S. at 21 (quoting Camara v. Mun. Court, 387 U.S. 523, 534-35, 536-37 (1967)).

         Here, the only question is whether Sergeant Sullivan had "specific, articulable facts that, when combined with rational inferences therefrom, lead him to reasonably conclude" that Sanchez was engaged, or about to be engaged, in criminal activity. Arguellez v. State, 409 S.W.3d 657, 663 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) (citing Castro v. State, 227 S.W.3d 737, 741 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007)); see also Hneidy, 510 S.W.3d at 462-63 (quoting Ford, 158 S.W.3d at 492) (assessing reasonableness of police conduct under "an objective standard that disregards the officer's subjective motive or intent and 'looks solely to whether an objective basis for the stop exists' based on the totality of the circumstances").

         D. Vehicle Stops Pursuant to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.