Probable cause can be a factual issue to be determined by the trial court

In State of Missouri vs. Kathryn Avent, the Western District of Missouri Court of Appeals upheld Defendant’s Motion to Suppress evidence due to lack of probable cause.

In this case arising out of Johnson County, the trial court found that the police officer lacked probable cause to arrest Defendant on the charges of DWI. Any information obtained after the arrest, including the breathalyzer, was deemed to be inadmissible.

Defendant through the trial contested the evidence provided by the officer through cross examination. “Avent cross-examined Corporal Owens, challenging his testimony by inferring bias and partiality, pointing out Corporal Owens selective omission of observations favorable to Avent, and by questioning the evidentiary weight of his observations and the reasonableness of inferences drawn therefrom. Avent obtained admissions by Corporal Owens that his various observations were indicative of the fact alcohol had been consumed but were not indicative of the amount consumed. Avent also elicited an abundance of testimony from Corporal Owens indicative of her not being intoxicated.”

The trial court found on behalf of the Defendant, but made no written findings of fact. The Appellate Court in this situation must assume that the Trial court must have made a judgment as to the credibility of the witnesses in coming to the conclusion regarding lack of probable cause. Therefore, the Trial courts ruling is upheld.

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