from the United States District Court for the Middle District
SMITH, ELROD, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.
E. SMITH, Circuit Judge.
Henry appeals his convictions of possession of a firearm by a
felon and possession of marihuana, contending that all of the
evidence should have been suppressed. He asserts that the
officers who stopped his vehicle had no reasonable suspicion
that he had engaged in any illegal activity. The officers
aver that they believed Henry was in violation of Louisiana
law because his license-plate frame obstructed the expiration
date on his registration sticker. Because the officers'
interpretation of the law was objectively reasonable, we
patrolling in Baton Rouge, police officers Carl Trosclair and
Marty Freeman noticed that Henry's license-plate frame
obstructed the view of the expiration date on the plate's
registration sticker. Believing that the obstruction violated
Louisiana law, they pulled Henry over. Trosclair approached
the vehicle and asked for Henry's license. While talking
to Henry, Trosclair noticed a strong odor of marihuana and
instructed Henry and his passenger to exit the vehicle.
Trosclair advised Henry of his Miranda rights and
asked whether he had any marihuana. Henry admitted that he
had a marihuana blunt in the ashtray; he also informed
Trosclair that his wife's gun was in the center console.
consented to a search of his vehicle, which produced two bags
of marihuana, a digital scale, and a loaded handgun. Henry
acknowledged that the marihuana and scale belonged to him.
After the officers had detained Henry in the back of their
police car, Henry's wife arrived. She denied ownership of
anything in the car, including the gun, and consented to a
search of her and Henry's house, where officers
discovered additional bags of marihuana, a bag of cocaine,
and drug paraphernalia.
was indicted for possession of a firearm by a felon in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and for possession of
marihuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a). He moved
to suppress evidence seized as a result of the traffic stop,
but the court denied the motion, concluding that the stop was
not unreasonable, even if based on a mistake of law. After a
bench trial, the court convicted Henry on both counts.
contends that the court erred in denying his motion to
suppress. He maintains that the traffic stop was unlawful
because Freeman and Tros-clair did not have reasonable
suspicion that he had engaged in any illegal activity. The
officers averred that they believed Henry's obstructed
registration sticker violated Louisiana Statutes Annotated
§ 32:53(A)(3), which provides that "[e]very
permanent registration license plate . . . shall be
maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to
be clearly legible."Henry counters that Section 32:53 does
not apply to obstructed registration stickers and that the
officers' interpretation of the statute was unreasonable.
reviewing a district court's denial of a motion to
suppress, we review the district court's findings of fact
for clear error and its conclusions of law de novo. In
reviewing findings of fact, we view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the party prevailing below, which in this
case is the Government." United States v.
Andres, 703 F.3d 828, 832 (5th Cir. 2013) (citations
omitted). When determining whether the facts provided
reasonable suspicion, "we must 'give due weight to
inferences drawn from those facts by resident judges and
local law enforcement officers.'"
stops are deemed seizures for the purposes of the Fourth