The Iowa Court of Appeals has thrown out evidence used in a firearms charge against a Des Moines saying police failed to properly impound his car.

Officer Ben Carter was conducting surveillance at a Des Moines residence when Samuel Juarez-Martinez pulled up. Carter was ordered by supervisors to make some sort of arrest and he proceeded to give Juarez-Martinez a ticket for blocking the sidewalk with his car.

Juarez-Martinez could not provide the officer with proof of insurance for the car, so Carter moved to impound it. A search turned up a gun in a bag in the car, and Juarez-Martinez was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm and was given a suspended 5-year jail sentence. Juarez-Marinez appealed saying the officer had not followed the proper impoundment procedure.

The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled it was unclear is the officer wrote Juarez-Martinez a ticket for not having insurance and he did not remove the license plates from the car as required by the impoundment law. The court says the impoundment appears to be solely for the purpose of investigating the car and the impoundment and search of the car were both invalid.