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State v. Lee

Court of Appeals of Idaho

January 25, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
TREVOR GLENN LEE, Defendant-Appellant.

          2017 Opinion No. 5

          Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, State of Idaho, Payette County. Hon. Susan E. Wiebe, District Judge.

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

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Andrea W. Reynolds, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Andrea W. Reynolds argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Jessica M. Lorello argued.

          HUSKEY, Judge

         Trevor Glenn Lee appeals from the judgment of conviction entered upon his conditional guilty plea to possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. Lee argues the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Because the officer had probable cause to arrest Lee and searched Lee incident to that arrest, we affirm the district court's denial of the motion to suppress.


         An officer observed Lee driving a blue Chevrolet pickup. The officer recognized the vehicle from a prior traffic stop and also recognized Lee, who was driving the vehicle. The officer suspected Lee was driving without a valid driver's license because Lee had a suspended license at the time of the previous encounter. After calling dispatch, the officer confirmed Lee's license was suspended. Lee parked his vehicle at a gas station and entered the store. As the officer watched, Lee exited the store and walked down the road, away from his vehicle. The officer activated his rear-facing lights, exited his patrol car, and made contact with Lee.

         Upon contact, Lee was reluctant to speak and refused to make eye contact with the officer. Lee refused to comply with the officer's repeated request to move to the front of the patrol car. The officer told Lee he would be issuing Lee a citation for driving without privileges. The officer then asked Lee if he was carrying any weapons, and Lee responded, "I have a pocket knife." Lee was moved to the front of the patrol car and was told to interlace his fingers behind his head while the officer performed a pat down search. The officer felt a very large bulge in Lee's left pant pocket and the officer asked Lee if he would mind if the officer removed the items. Lee did not consent to the removal of the objects. Because the officer felt what appeared to be a knife, he proceeded to slide each of the objects out of Lee's pocket, one-by-one. The officer recovered two round, cylindrical Chapstick containers, one longer cylindrical Chapstick container, a money clip, a small tin container, and a pocket knife. The knife was the last object removed from Lee's pocket.

         The officer handcuffed Lee and placed him in the back of the patrol car. At that time the officer stated: "You're just being detained right now, you understand, " and later the officer testified, "I detained him because I recognized the objects that come out of his pocket to be probably more than likely paraphernalia." The officer also indicated at the preliminary hearing that he did not intend to arrest Lee for driving without privileges. Once Lee was in the back of the patrol car, the officer opened the containers removed from Lee's pocket. In one round, cylindrical Chapstick container, the officer found a green leafy substance he recognized to be marijuana, while the other round, cylindrical Chapstick container contained lip balm. In the longer Chapstick container, the officer discovered white powdery residue. Last, within the small tin container, the officer found three folded pieces of paper in a small baggie, which later tested positive for methamphetamine. After searching the containers, the officer arrested Lee for possession of a controlled substance.

         The State charged Lee with felony possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, Idaho Code § 37-2732(c)(1). In a different case, the State charged Lee with three misdemeanors: possession of a controlled substance, marijuana, I.C. § 37-2732(c)(3); possession of paraphernalia, I.C. § 37-2734A; and driving without privileges, I.C. § 18-8001. The two cases were consolidated in the district court.

         Lee filed a motion to suppress the evidence found in his pocket, challenging the constitutionality of the frisk and the search of the containers found in his pocket. The district court denied Lee's motion to suppress, analyzing the case under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) and as a search incident to an arrest. The district court concluded the officer was justified in conducting a frisk of Lee, stating: "Lee's reluctant attitude and noncompliance with Officer requests, coupled with the bulge in his front pocket and his previous encounter with law enforcement, could lead a reasonable person to infer that he was armed and dangerous." However, the district court determined the officer exceeded the scope of a Terry frisk when he opened the containers because "he no longer had reason to believe that the containers posed a threat." Nonetheless, the district court concluded the search of the containers was permissible as a search incident to Lee's arrest, since the search was substantially contemporaneous to the arrest and the officer had probable cause for an arrest based on Lee's driving without privileges.

         Lee pleaded guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine pursuant to a plea agreement, and the State dismissed the three misdemeanor charges. As part of the agreement, Lee reserved his right to challenge the denial of his suppression motion on appeal. The district court imposed a unified sentence of four years, with eighteen months determinate. The ...

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