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State v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 26, 2016

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
CHAD LEE WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellant.

         2016 Opinion No. 40S

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Cheri C. Copsey, District Judge.

         Order denying motion to suppress and judgment of conviction, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, Interim State Appellate Public Defender; Maya P. Waldron, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          HUSKEY, Judge.

         Chad Lee Williams appeals from his judgment of conviction, asserting the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the district court's holding that Williams' initial detention was constitutionally permissible because either his detention was a de minimis intrusion that was outweighed by significant law enforcement interests when executing the arrest warrant for a third party or the officers had a reasonable suspicion Williams was harboring a felon. We also affirm the district court's holding that the initial detention was not unreasonably prolonged and there was probable cause to arrest Williams for frequenting a place where controlled substances are known to be located.

         I.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURE

         Boise City Police officers began surveillance on an apartment where they believed the subject of an arrest warrant resided. Officers positioned themselves at the front of the apartment and one officer positioned himself at the back. After conducting surveillance for thirty minutes, the officers watched one person enter the apartment, but saw four individuals come out and stand in front of the door to the apartment. Officers approached the group to determine whether the subject of the warrant was one of the four and if so, to execute the warrant. When an officer shined his flashlight on the subject of the warrant, the subject fled into the apartment and out the back door. One officer pursued the subject to the back of the apartment to assist another officer in apprehending and arresting the subject while two officers detained the three remaining individuals, including Williams. After arresting the subject of the arrest warrant, an officer testified he returned to the front of the apartment to assist the other officers with the detained individuals. As he walked past the apartment, he detected a strong smell of marijuana emanating from the apartment. The officer testified that as he approached the front of the apartment, the other officers were attempting to identify the three individuals. The officer asked the apartment owner if there was marijuana and drug paraphernalia inside the apartment; she admitted there was.

         Based on the odor and the apartment owner's admission to the presence of marijuana, the officers arrested Williams for frequenting a place where controlled substances are known to be located. After Williams was handcuffed, he attempted to run away. An officer caught him and searched him incident to arrest. The search yielded a bag of methamphetamine, a bag of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. The State charged Williams with five crimes: felony possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, marijuana; possession of paraphernalia; frequenting a place where controlled substances are known to be located; and resisting and obstructing officers.

         Williams filed a motion to suppress evidence, arguing the evidence was the fruit of an unlawful detention and arrest. Following a hearing, the district court denied the motion, finding the detention and arrest were constitutionally reasonable. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Williams conditionally pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, and resisting or obstructing officers, reserving his right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress. All other charges were dismissed. The district court imposed a unified seven-year sentence, with two years determinate, for the possession of a controlled substance charge, and seventy-four days in the county jail, with credit for time served, for the resisting and obstructing charge. Williams 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). At a suppression hearing, the power to assess the credibility of witnesses, resolve factual conflicts, weigh evidence, and draw factual inferences is vested in the trial court. State v. Valdez-Molina, 127 Idaho 102, 106, 897 P.2d 993, 997 (1995); State v. Schevers, 132 Idaho 786, 789, 979 P.2d 659, 662 (Ct. App. 1999).

         III.

         ANALYSIS

         A. It Was Constitutionally Permissible to Detain Williams During the Execution of an

         Arrest Warrant

         Despite Williams' arguments to the contrary, the district court rejected Williams' argument and relied on State v. Reynolds, 143 Idaho 911, 155 P.3d 712 (Ct. App. 2007) to hold that the constitutionally permissible detention of third parties during the execution of a search warrant also applies to the execution of arrest warrants. Williams conceded in the district court that the officers lawfully detained him to determine whether he harbored a fugitive. Given that concession, he acknowledges on appeal he cannot challenge the legality of his initial detention; however, Williams nonetheless argues because the district court erroneously held the officers could detain him simply because they executed an arrest warrant, the basis for Williams' detention could not support the length of his detention.

         Although Williams contends both constitutions were violated, he provides no cogent reason why Article I, Section 17 of the Idaho Constitution should be applied differently than the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution in this case. Therefore, the Court will rely on judicial ...


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