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State of Idaho v. Kimberly D. Jones

October 31, 2011

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
KIMBERLY D. JONES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Twin Falls County. Hon. G. Richard Bevan, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gutierrez, Judge

2011 Opinion No. 63

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

Judgment of conviction entered upon conditional guilty plea to two counts of possession of a controlled substance, affirmed.

Kimberly D. Jones appeals from her judgment of conviction entered upon a conditional guilty plea to two counts of possession of a controlled substance. Specifically, under her reserved rights in the conditional plea, Jones challenges the district court's denial of her motion to suppress evidence. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

The central issue in this case arises from the fact that Jones was initially stopped and arrested for reckless driving. Following her arrest, Jones admitted to being in possession of a pipe used for smoking methamphetamine and a small quantity of marijuana. These items were found during the ensuing search incident to her arrest. Jones was charged with one count of felony possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), Idaho Code § 37-2732(c)(1), and one count of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), Idaho Code § 37-2732(c)(3). Jones filed a motion to suppress evidence, asserting the search violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 17 of the Idaho Constitution because her arrest for reckless driving, used to justify the search, was invalid. She argued the arrest exceeded the officer's authority granted in sections 49-1409, 49-1407, and 49-1405(1)(f), (2) of the Idaho Code. After briefing and a hearing on the matter, the district court found the arrest was lawful and denied the motion to suppress. Jones entered a conditional guilty plea pursuant to Idaho Criminal Rule 11(a)(2), reserving her right to appeal the district court's denial of her motion to suppress. Jones timely appeals.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The standard of review of a suppression motion is bifurcated. When a decision on a motion to suppress is challenged, we accept the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by substantial evidence, but we freely review the application of constitutional principles to the facts as found. State v. Atkinson, 128 Idaho 559, 561, 916 P.2d 1284, 1286 (Ct. App. 1996). Because this case presents no factual disputes, the review is limited to issues of the proper application of law to those facts.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Authority to Arrest for Reckless Driving Under Idaho Law

Jones challenges the district court's denial of the motion to suppress her statements and evidence seized in the search incident to her warrantless arrest. Jones contends the officer had no legal authority under Idaho law to arrest her for reckless driving, making the ensuing search a violation of her rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 17 of the Idaho Constitution*fn1 , thereby requiring exclusion of the evidence.

Search of a person without a warrant is presumptively violative of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 17 of the Idaho Constitution unless a recognized exception to the warrant requirement applies. State v. Diaz, 144 Idaho 300, 302, 160 P.3d 739, 741 (2007); State v. LeClercq, 149 Idaho 905, 907, 243 P.3d 1093, 1095 (Ct. App. 2010). One well-established exception is a search incident to a lawful arrest. United States v. Edwards, 415 U.S. 800, 802 (1974); State v. Foster, 127 Idaho 723, 728, 905 P.2d 1032, 1037 (Ct. App. 1995). Under Idaho Code section 49-1409, in regards to misdemeanor traffic violations, an officer generally is not authorized to make an arrest; rather, the officer is compelled to issue a citation unless an arrest is required or permitted by another statute elsewhere in Title 49. See State v. Foldesi, 131 Idaho 778, 781-82, 963 P.2d 1215, 1218-19 (Ct. App. 1998). Reckless driving is a traffic misdemeanor, Idaho Code § 49-1401, and thus, a warrantless arrest would not be permitted absent some other authority.

Among Title 49 statutes that do grant officers the authority to arrest for traffic misdemeanors are sections 49-1405 and 49-1407.*fn2 The applicable portion of subsection (1) of section 49-1405 states, "The authority to make an arrest is the same as upon an arrest for a felony when any person is charged with any of the following offenses: . . . (f) Reckless driving." The next subsection of section 49-1405 further states that "[w]henever any person is arrested as authorized in this section, he shall be taken without unnecessary delay before the proper magistrate," except that in a case of a ...


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