Andreas Gonzalez was driving in Sunnyside,
Washington, on a Sunday when he was
pulled over for speeding. The car he was
driving had California license plates. When
asked for his license and registration, Mr.
Gonzalez provided a California registration
that was not in his name. When asked who
owned the car, Mr. Gonzalez replied with a
name that was not on the registration. Upon
checking, it was discovered Mr. Gonzalez's
license had been suspended. Mr. Gonzalez
was placed under arrest and backup was
called to assist with the impound of Mr.
The assisting officer had a canine partner. Mr. Gonzalez consented to the canine's
search of his vehicle, and the canine alerted
to the center console, which contained a
“user” amount of cocaine, and $5,940 in
cash, which was located in the driver's side
door pocket. There were no other canine
alerts and no other drug paraphernalia was
found in the car. Id. at 603-604.
THE FORFEITURE HEARING
While in custody, Mr. Gonzalez was
served with a notice of seizure and intent to
forfeit the car and the cash. He requested a
At the hearing, the arresting officer testified that “from past experience or knowing
and dealing with the situation . . . it's not uncommon that a person be selected or offered
a job to drive a vehicle that has a contents
or contraband from one place to the other
place and they get x amount of money plus
the vehicle they used to transport.” Id. at
604. The arresting officer did not testify
regarding the canine alerts.
The canine officer testified his dog was
trained to alert to a number of drugs, but
was not specifically trained to alert to cash.
He believed the alert to the cash indicated
there was controlled substance on the
money. On cross-examination he admitted
money could be contaminated through
counting and automatic teller machines,
Mr. Gonzalez explained that prior to
his arrest he had accompanied a friend
to California to visit relatives. While
there, Mr. Gonzalez was offered an
opportunity to buy the car in question.
Mr. Gonzalez knew he had enough
money at home to purchase the car,
but did not have that amount with him.
His friend offered to loan Mr. Gonzalez
money with the proviso that Mr. Gon-
zalez pay him back upon their return to
Washington. Mr. Gonzalez purchased
the car and received the title, but did
not get a bill of sale. Id. at 604-605.
Because Mr. Gonzalez returned to
Washington on the weekend he was arrested, he had not been able to change
the registration or obtain Washington
state license plates before his arrest. At
the time of the forfeiture hearing, Mr.
Gonzalez had a valid driver's license,
proof of insurance, and proper vehicle
registration. Id. at 605.
When asked why the name he gave
for the registration did not match the
name actually on the registration, Mr.
Gonzalez testified he was "probably
nervous, scared I'm gonna end up
being arrested." Id. at 603. He testified
the money in the car was to repay his
friend for the loan to purchase the
vehicle. Mr. Gonzalez also testified that
although he was currently unemployed,
he lived with his parents and, through
a variety of sources, his total income
for the prior year exceeded the amount
of money that was found in the car. Id.
Mr. Gonzalez had no prior arrests
or convictions for any drug-related
activity. He ultimately pleaded guilty
to a possession charge for the cocaine
found in the car. Id. at 604.
THE CANINE OFFICER...
THAT THE FEDERAL
ON EVIDENCE OF
OF DRUGS BEING
FOUND ON CASH
FOR THAT REASON.