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State v. Ayala

Court of Appeals of Idaho

September 18, 2018

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JESUS GEORGE AYALA, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Deborah A. Bail, District Judge.

         Judgment of conviction for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Kimberly A. Coster, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Kimberly A. Coster argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.

          LORELLO, Judge

         Jesus George Ayala appeals from his judgment of conviction for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ayala argues that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence that was discovered as a result of his arrest and the subsequent search of his person. Specifically, he contends that his arrest was constitutionally unlawful because it was not supported by probable cause and that the parole officer's statutory authority to arrest under I.C. § 20-227 was never invoked. He also argues that his sentence for possession of a controlled substance is excessive. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A local law enforcement officer was notified that Ayala had absconded from parole and that his parole officer would issue an agent's warrant. The local officer located Ayala and arrested him before the warrant was issued. During a search incident to arrest, the officer found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. The agent's warrant was prepared and emailed to the officer after Ayala's arrest and search. The State charged Ayala with possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a persistent violator sentencing enhancement. Ayala filed a motion to suppress the drugs and paraphernalia, arguing that the evidence was discovered during a search incident to an unlawful arrest. The district court denied Ayala's motion to suppress. Ayala entered a conditional guilty plea to possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, reserving his right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress. As part of the plea agreement, the State dismissed the persistent violator enhancement. Ayala was sentenced to a unified term of seven years, with a minimum period of confinement of one year, for possession of a controlled substance.[1] Ayala 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).

         A sentence that is within the statutory limits is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. State v. Knighton, 143 ...


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