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CHARLES DENNIS v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Motion to suppress evidence — Traffic stop

In this appeal, we address whether the circuit court erred in denying a criminal defendant’s motion to suppress evidence recovered during a traffic stop. In 2010, Charles Dennis (“Appellant”) was a passenger in a pickup truck with tinted windows that was pulled over by police after the driver committed a traffic violation, crossing the center line of a motorway. Police had received a tip that “stickup boys” operating in the area were driving a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle pulled over. Officer Nagovich, one of the officers involved in the traffic stop, saw Appellant, the right, rear passenger, pass a red object to the right, front passenger. The police recovered this object and discovered it to be a bag of heroin.

Appellant was indicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and charged with possession of heroin, possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy to distribute heroin, conspiracy to possess heroin with the intent to distribute it, and conspiracy to possess heroin. After his motion to suppress was denied, a jury convicted him of conspiracy to possess heroin, a controlled dangerous substance. After Appellant was sentenced to three years’ incarceration, with credit for time served, he filed an untimely notice of appeal that was dismissed by this Court in an unreported opinion. Dennis v. State, No. 2507, Sept. Term, 2011 (mandate issued July 5, 2013). Subsequently, Appellant filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel for filing an untimely notice of appeal. After a hearing, the circuit court granted Appellant the opportunity to file a belated appeal. Appellant now asks this Court the following questions:

1. Did the circuit court err in denying appellant’s motion to suppress evidence?

2. Was the evidence sufficient to support appellant’s conviction?

3. Did the circuit court commit plain error in permitting the prosecutor to make improper remarks during closing arguments?

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