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2008-UP-548 - State v. Fernando Saenz-Montes

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent

v.

Fernando Saenz-Montes, Appellant.


Appeal From Oconee County
 Howard P. King, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-548
Submitted October 1, 2008 – Filed October 9, 2008  


AFFIRMED


Beattie B. Ashmore, of Greenville, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Assistant Attorney General Harold M. Coombs, Jr. all of Columbia; Solicitor Christina T. Adams, of Anderson, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Fernando Saenz-Montes appeals his conviction and sentence for trafficking in cocaine, arguing the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence seized during a search of a vehicle he was driving because the dog sniff did not reveal drugs were in the vehicle and the detention following the traffic stop violated his Fourth Amendment rights.  We affirm[1] pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR, and the following authorities:

1.  As to whether the dog sniff revealed drugs were in the vehicle:  State v. Wise, 359 S.C. 14, 21, 596 S.E.2d 475, 478 (2004) (stating the admission or exclusion of evidence is a matter addressed to the trial court’s sound discretion); State v. Douglas, 367 S.C. 498, 509, 626 S.E.2d 59, 65 (Ct. App. 2006) (explaining defects in the amount and quality of the expert’s education or experience go to the weight to be accorded the expert’s testimony and not to its admissibility).

2.  As to whether the detention following the traffic stop violated his Fourth Amendment rights: Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 809-10 (1996) (“Temporary detention of individuals during the stop of an automobile by the police, even if only for a brief period and for a limited purpose, constitutes a ‘seizure’ of ‘persons’ within the meaning of [the Fourth Amendment].”); Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 500 (1983) (explaining an investigative detention must be temporary and last no longer than is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop and the scope of the detention must be carefully tailored to its underlying justification); Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 111 n.6 (1977) (holding when police lawfully detain a motor vehicle for a traffic violation, they may order the driver to exit the vehicle without violating Fourth Amendment proscriptions on unreasonable searches and seizures); State v. Brockman, 339 S.C. 57, 66, 528 S.E.2d 661, 666 (2000) (articulating the any evidence standard of review to apply to Fourth Amendment search and seizure cases); State v. Pichardo, 367 S.C. 84, 99, 623 S.E.2d 840, 848 (Ct. App. 2005) (explaining  Fourth Amendment jurisprudence provides lengthening the detention for further questioning once the initial traffic stop is completed is permissible in two situations: (1) the officer may detain the driver for questioning unrelated to the initial stop if he or she has an objectively reasonable and articulable suspicion illegal activity has occurred or is occurring; and (2) further questioning unrelated to the initial stop is permissible if the initial detention has become a consensual encounter); State v. Williams, 351 S.C. 591, 597-98, 571 S.E.2d 703, 707 (Ct. App. 2002) (stating when probable cause exists to believe a traffic violation has occurred, the decision to stop the automobile is reasonable per se); State v. Butler, 343 S.C. 198, 201, 539 S.E.2d 414, 416 (Ct. App. 2000) (stating the Fourth Amendment guarantees a person the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures).

AFFIRMED.

ANDERSON, WILLAIMS, and KONDUROS, JJ., concur.


[1] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.