In Tennessee criminal cases, circumstantial evidence is as good as direct evidence, as long as it is convincing. Circumstantial evidence can support probable cause for arrest. In the recent case of State v. Seay, M2011-02769-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-16-2013), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals determined the circumstantial evidence that the Defendant had been driving a vehicle on a public road while his license was canceled, revoked or suspended was sufficient to support the Defendant's arrest, which then led to the discovery of cocaine in a pill fob attached to the Defendant's key ring.
In the Seay case, a police officer conducted an investigatory stop based on observing that the vehicle tags on a vehicle parked along a road did not match the vehicle. The officer never saw the vehicle in motion on the roadway. He only observed the Defendant in the driver's seat, speaking with an unidentified woman standing next to the car. When the Defendant exited the car to speak with the officer, the Defendant was carrying the car keys. After the officer determined that the Defendant did not have a valid driver's license, there was sufficient evidence for the officer to also conclude that the Defendant had been operating the vehicle on a public road without having a valid license to do so. The Defendant was then lawfully arrested, searched, and the cocaine was discovered in the pill fob on the key ring.
For more information on what circumstantial evidence may support probable cause for arrest, contact Hindman & Associates.