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Illegal Search & Seizure Conviction Reversed

California v. Gyorgy Docket: G061567 (Fourth Appellate District), Opinion Date: July 14, 2023. After the truck defendant-appellant Joseph Gyorgy was driving was pulled over for making an unsafe lane change, a police officer used his narcotics detection dog to sniff the truck’s exterior. The police dog alerted, signaling it detected the odor of narcotics inside the truck’s cab. In a subsequent search of the truck, officers found methamphetamine, a pipe, a handgun, and ammunition. Gyorgy twice moved to suppress the evidence seized in the search of his truck, arguing the search occurred during an unlawfully prolonged traffic stop in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The trial court denied his motions, and he was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His sole argument on appeal was that the trial court erred by denying his motions to suppress. Based in its analysis of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. 348 (2015), the Court of Appeal agreed the court erred. "What began as a lawful traffic stop violated the Fourth Amendment’s shield against unreasonable seizures when the officers detoured from the traffic stop’s mission by conducting the dog sniff and inquiring into matters unrelated to the traffic violation." The Court also rejected the California Attorney General’s alternative argument that the stop was lawfully prolonged based on reasonable suspicion of other criminal activity.

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