2013 Opinion No. 38
Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Jerome County. Hon. John K. Butler, District Judge.
Order granting motion to suppress evidence, reversed, and case remanded.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Mark W. Olson, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for appellant.
Wright Brothers Law Office, PLLC; Brooke B. Redmond, Twin Falls, for respondent.
The State appeals from the district court's order suppressing statements made by Tennison Michael Silver to law enforcement officers before the officers advised him of his right to remain silent and his right to counsel. The State asserts the officers were not required to notify Silver of his rights before questioning him because he was not in custody.
A few minutes before midnight on December 1, 2011, a law enforcement officer initiated a traffic stop after observing a driver, later identified as Silver, fail to make a complete stop at a stop sign and exceed the posted speed limit. The officer informed Silver of the reason for the stop and requested his license, registration, and proof of insurance. Silver explained that he was driving his sister's car, and that it would take him some time to find the insurance information. During this time, the officer questioned him about a strong odor of marijuana that the officer detected emanating from the vehicle. Silver explained that he had recently visited a friend who smokes, but that he, Silver, had not smoked in four months. After checking the status of Silver's license, the officer asked Silver to step out of his car to perform a series of field sobriety tests.
As the officer began to administer one of the tests, a second officer, who had recently arrived on the scene, observed and removed a plastic bag containing marijuana that was plainly visible in Silver's pocket. The first officer asked Silver why he had lied, and again asked him when he had last smoked marijuana. Silver responded that he had used marijuana thirty minutes earlier. The officer asked if Silver had any other drugs or drug paraphernalia, which Silver denied. The officer then stated, "If I end up taking you to jail, and you have anything else on you, and you don't disclose it to me, that's introducing contraband into a secured facility." He then asked if Silver had "anything" on his person or in his car. Silver initially did not respond. The second officer told Silver that because he had discovered marijuana in Silver's pocket, he could "rip [Silver's] car apart, " and the first officer admonished Silver to "be straight." Silver then reported that there was an ounce of marijuana in the car which the officers' ultimately retrieved. The first officer asked, "are you dealing or just using?" Silver responded that he was taking the marijuana to a friend and, in response to the officer's follow-up question, confirmed that he was delivering the marijuana to another person. The officer administered three field sobriety tests and then placed Silver under arrest.
Silver was charged with one felony count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence. He filed a motion to suppress his responses to the officer's questions on the ground that he was subjected to custodial interrogation without Miranda warnings. The district court granted the motion and suppressed Silver's statements. The State appeals.