from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District, State
of Idaho, Bannock County. Robert Naftz, District Judge.
court decision denying motion to suppress, reversed, judgment
of conviction vacated, and case remanded for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
D. Frederickson, State Appellant Public Defender, Boise, for
appellant. Kimberly A. Coster, Deputy State Appellate Public
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
respondent. Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General,
BURDICK, Chief Justice.
K. Hoskins appeals the Bannock County district court's
denial of his motion to suppress. The State argued that
Hoskins lacked standing to object to the search based on
consent and the district court denied the motion on that
basis. On appeal, all parties agree the district court's
ruling on standing was erroneous. Nevertheless, the State
argues that the district court's decision can be affirmed
based on the plain-view doctrine. Hoskins objects and argues
that the State forfeited this argument by failing to raise it
below. Hoskins prevailed at the Court of Appeals and this
Court granted the State's timely petition for review.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
September 2016, Idaho State Trooper Spencer Knudsen observed
a Pontiac Grand Am driving with a cracked windshield and
pulled it over. He asked the driver for the vehicle's
registration and insurance as well as identification for the
vehicle's three occupants. The occupants produced various
forms of identification, but were unable to provide
registration or insurance for the vehicle. The identification
revealed that Jovette Archuleta was the driver of the
vehicle, Amber Alvarez was seated in the passenger's
seat, and Hoskins was seated alone in the back seat.
Knudsen relayed information on the vehicle and its occupants
to dispatch for a records check. Before long, dispatch
informed Trooper Knudsen that the vehicle's license
plates actually belonged to a Chevrolet Malibu registered to
Archuleta. Dispatch also notified Trooper Knudsen that all of
the vehicles' occupants had prior drug convictions.
Returning to the Pontiac, Trooper Knudsen asked Archuleta to
step out of the car to speak with him. Once she had, he
questioned her about whether the car contained anything
illegal. After she stated that she didn't believe so,
Trooper Knudsen asked for permission to search the car.
Archuleta explained that Alvarez actually owned the car, not
she. Knudsen then requested that Alvarez exit the vehicle to
speak with him. Knudsen also asked Alvarez whether there were
any drugs in the vehicle, and, eventually, for her consent to
search the vehicle. Reluctant, Alvarez explained that she had
just bought the car and was worried that if Trooper Knudsen
found anything illegal in the car, it might get the seller in
trouble. Trooper Knudsen assured Alvarez that the seller
would not get in trouble, but made clear that if she did not
consent, he would get consent from Archuleta. Soon after,
Alvarez gave her permission to search the vehicle.
searching the vehicle, Trooper Knudsen directed Hoskins to
get out of the backseat. The district court described the
ensuing moments as follows:
As Hoskins began to exit the car, Trooper Knudsen instructed
him to leave his personal items on the backseat. During the
subsequent search of the car and questioning of [Hoskins],
Trooper Knudsen found marijuana in a cigarette package left
in the car by [Hoskins]. Upon closer examination, Trooper
Knudsen discovered a baggie containing methamphetamine.
Hoskins was arrested and charged with possession of
methamphetamine with a sentencing enhancement based on a
prior drug conviction.
promptly filed a motion to suppress the evidence taken from
the traffic stop. He argued that the traffic stop
"evolved into an illegal detention and seizure of the
Defendant's person" and cited State v.
Newsom, 132 Idaho 698, 979 P.2d 698 (1998), for the
proposition that his Fourth Amendment right to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures was violated after he
"was instructed to leave his wallet and personal items
inside the vehicle in which he was riding as a
evidentiary hearing, the State called Trooper Knudsen to
testify about stopping the vehicle, calling for additional
back up, and asking Hoskins to leave his personal belongings
in the car. He testified that he asked Hoskins to leave his
items in his car because his training and experience taught
him that people sometimes keep drugs and weapons in such
containers. The State also inquired about how he received
permission to search the vehicle and how he questioned
Hoskins about whether the vehicle contained anything illicit.
Trooper Knudsen testified about how Hoskins eventually told
him that there might be marijuana in a cigarette package and
that Hoskins later claimed ownership over the package. Based
on his testimony, Trooper Knudsen removed the marijuana so
that he could return the cigarettes to Hoskins but, upon
removing the marijuana, he found a second baggie containing
lawyer cross-examined Trooper Knudsen about the same topics,
but focused on the duration of the stop and Trooper
Knudsen's process of obtaining consent from Alvarez.
Before Trooper Knudsen stepped down, the Court asked him
about why he called for back-up and who gave the consent to
search the vehicle. For his part, Hoskins offered into
evidence video footage of the stop taken from the dash-board
camera in Trooper Knudsen's patrol vehicle. The evidence
was admitted upon stipulation by the State. The court then
directed the parties to submit briefs on the matter
addressing two issues:
THE COURT: Okay. That's what I want you to focus then on.
So those are the two issues. Coerced consent, and then the
idea that things can't be required to be left in the
vehicle with regard to items [directed to be left in the car
by a police officer].
State requested that it be allowed to file its brief after
Hoskins so that the State would be able to address
Hoskins's arguments. The court acquiesced.
brief, Hoskins argued that: (1) he had standing to contest
the search of his personal items; (2) the traffic stop was
unlawfully prolonged and any consent was obtained by
coercion; and (3) the search of his personal items was
illegal under Newsom.
response, the State contended that (1) Hoskins could
challenge the stop of the vehicle but not the search of the
vehicle because he had no ownership interest in it; (2) the
traffic stop was not unlawfully prolonged; and (3) the search
of Hoskins's personal effects was not illegal because it
was within the scope of validly obtained consent.
district court denied Hoskins's motion to suppress. The
court ruled that Hoskins did not have standing to contest the
search of the vehicle because the vehicle was searched
pursuant to validly obtained consent. The court ruled that
Alvarez's consent was not the result of coercion and that
Trooper Knudsen was justified in initially stopping the
vehicle and then extending the stop. Shortly thereafter,
Hoskins pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled
substance and reserved the right to appeal the denial of his
motion to suppress. The Court imposed a unified sentence of
three years, with one year fixed, but suspended the sentence
and placed Hoskins on probation.
timely appealed and the case was assigned to the Court of
Appeals which reversed the district court's denial of the
motion to suppress and vacated the judgment of conviction.