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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Dec 7, 2012

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Jeffery S. Frensley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mario Ochoa.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Sallie Wade Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): GLENN

Following a traffic stop and search of his vehicle that uncovered over five kilograms of cocaine, the defendant, Mario Ochoa, was indicted by the Sumner County Grand Jury with possession of over 300 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, a Class A felony. He subsequently pled guilty to possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, a Class B felony, in exchange for a Range I sentence of twelve years in the Department of Correction, reserving the following certified questions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A): (1) whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle; (2) whether the officer exceeded the scope of the stop once he discovered that the defendant’s temporary license tag was valid; (3) whether the evidence should be suppressed because the defendant’s consent to search the vehicle was not sufficiently attenuated from the prior seizure; and (4) whether the search of the vehicle exceeded the scope of what a reasonable person would have understood to have been meant by the defendant’s consent. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.