In light of the California Supreme Court’s ruling in People v. Macabeo (2016) 1 Cal.5th 1206, the juvenile court should have granted minor’s suppression motion where minor was searched incident to a detention for a non-jailable infraction. Officers encountered a group of individuals while patrolling in response to a broadcast that someone in the area may have a firearm. Officers told D.W. that he smelled like marijuana, and he responded that he had just smoked. The officers decided to search D.W. for more marijuana and found a revolver in his backpack. D.W. moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that officers had no probable cause to arrest him and therefore were not entitled to search him incident to an arrest. The juvenile court denied the motion to suppress and found true three allegations of firearm offenses. The Court of Appeal initially affirmed the judgment. The California Supreme Court granted review and held the case pending its consideration and disposition of People v. Macabeo. After Macabeo was decided, this case was transferred back to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration. Held: Reversed. Under the Fourth Amendment, a warrantless search is reasonable only if it falls within a specific exception to the warrant requirement. A lawful custodial arrest supported by probable cause provides authority for a search, but “there is no exception for a search incident to citation.” (Id. at 1218.) Here, the search of D.W. failed to satisfy the Fourth Amendment because, when officers decided to search D.W., they had neither cause to make a custodial arrest nor evidence that he was guilty of anything more than an infraction. At the time of this search in 2015, possession of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana was a non-jailable infraction. The court did not consider whether the evidence of D.W.’s possession of the gun was admissible because the officers acted in good faith in the reasonable belief at the time they initiated the search that D.W. was guilty of some jailable offense because the People did not make this argument.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A145470A.PDF