from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Lansing L. Haynes, District
District Court's order denying Gonzales' motion to
suppress is reversed. Accordingly, the judgment of conviction
is likewise vacated.
D. Frederickson, Idaho State Appellate Public Defender,
Boise, attorney for Appellant. Jenevieve C. Swinford argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney
for Respondent. John C. McKinney argued.
Nature of the Case
Gonzales, Jr., appeals the district court's order denying
his motion to suppress evidence obtained following a
warrantless seizure. Gonzales was arrested and charged with
possession of methamphetamine and introducing or attempting
to introduce methamphetamine into a correctional facility.
Gonzales moved to suppress, asserting the warrantless seizure
was without legal justification and the evidence obtained was
fruit of that illegality. The district court denied the
motion after finding the seizure was lawful. The Court of
Appeals reversed the district court's order denying the
motion to suppress. This Court granted the State's
petition for review. We now reverse the district court's
order denying Gonzales' motion to suppress and vacate the
judgment of conviction.
Factual and Procedural Background
about 1:30 a.m. on March 3, 2017, Officer Joseph Scholten of
the Coeur d'Alene Police Department was patrolling a
shared parking lot between the La Quinta Inn & Suites and
Shari's Restaurant. Both businesses were open. During his
patrol, Officer Scholten observed a black Chevy Blazer parked
in a dark area between the two businesses. Soon after,
Officer Scholten observed a woman exit the vehicle and walk
toward the La Quinta entrance. Officer Scholten recognized
this woman from recent criminal investigations as Arielle
Padel. Officer Scholten was familiar with Padel because she
had recently reported her vehicle as stolen from an associate
and later reported her vehicle had not been stolen.
Additionally, Officer Scholten knew that Padel, among other
associates, was suspected of firearm thefts in the area.
on the time of Padel's presence in the parking lot, the
location of her vehicle in the darkened area, and his
familiarity with Padel, Officer Scholten exited his patrol
car and tried to speak with Padel. Padel made it clear she
did not want to talk and continued to walk toward the La
Quinta entrance. Officer Scholten found Padel's behavior
abnormal and suggestive of Padel trying to get away from
Officer Scholten and her own vehicle. After Padel left,
Officer Scholten approached Padel's vehicle from the
passenger side, shined his flashlight inside the vehicle and
observed a man, later identified as Gonzales, lying on the
floor with his head, side, and feet on the
floor. At that time, Officer Scholten turned the
flashlight and shined it on himself to show Gonzales he was a
police officer. Gonzales then exited the vehicle through the
driver's side door. As Gonzales exited, Scholten observed
Gonzales to be nervous and twitching and he instructed
Gonzales to put his hands behind his back so Scholten could
pat him down for weapons. Gonzales made a slight movement as
if to put his hands behind his back, but then ran away.
Officer Scholten followed Gonzales, caught him, detained him,
and conducted a pat down for weapons. While detained, Officer
Scholten learned Gonzales was on probation and contacted his
probation officer who issued an agent's warrant for his
arrest. Scholten placed Gonzales under arrest. During a later
search at the jail, methamphetamine was found on Gonzales.
State charged Gonzales with one count of possession of a
controlled substance, in violation of Idaho Code section
37-2732(c)(1), and one count of introducing major contraband
into a correctional facility, in violation of Idaho Code
section 18-2510(3). Gonzales moved to suppress all evidence
obtained following the warrantless seizure. Gonzales argued
Officer Scholten lacked reasonable suspicion to seize him
before or after he fled. The State did not file a response to
hearing on Gonzales' motion to suppress was held and the
district court orally denied the motion to suppress. The
district court determined that Gonzales was detained when
Officer Scholten shined his flashlight into the vehicle,
revealed he was a law enforcement officer, and may have
suggested a need for Gonzales to exit the vehicle. The
district court held there was reasonable suspicion for this
detention based on Padel's involvement in prior
investigations, Padel walking away from Officer Scholten, and
Gonzales lying down in the backseat of Padel's vehicle
that was located in the darkest part of the parking lot. The
district court also found Officer Scholten's reasonable
suspicion was "heightened" when Gonzales fled.
Finally, the district court determined Officer Scholten had
probable cause to believe that Gonzales obstructed and
delayed an officer once he fled. Thus, the district court
determined the seizures were reasonable. Based on these
findings, the district court later issued a written order
denying Gonzales' motion to suppress.
Rule 11 plea agreement, Gonzales pleaded guilty to possession
of a controlled substance and entered an
Alford plea to introducing major contraband
into a correctional facility. Gonzales reserved the right to
appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. Gonzales timely
appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed. This Court granted
the State's petition for review.