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Name: People v. Gutierrez
Case #: F074601
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/29/2018

Denial of motion to suppress evidence reversed where police unduly detained defendant during a probation compliance search of a third party. In 2015, Kern County sheriff’s deputies went to a third party probationer’s home for a routine probation compliance search. Defendant, who did not live in the house, was ordered outside and detained. Officers conducted a pat down search of defendant and directed him to sit on the front porch. The officers obtained identifying information from defendant and used it to get data from dispatch that he was on post-release community supervision (which was not true). A second search of defendant yielded cash, and in his car police found a shotgun, methamphetamine, and a scale. After defendant’s motion to suppress was denied, he entered a plea to drug charges. He appealed. Held: Reversed. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. “Detentions are seizures of an individual which are strictly limited in duration, scope and purpose.” Police may detain a person if there is an articulable suspicion that he has committed or is about to commit a crime. A detention occurs when a reasonable person, in light of all the circumstances, would not feel free to leave. Defendant was detained at the inception of the third party probationer’s search and was held for 30 to 50 minutes. The extent of this intrusion must be balanced against the government interests justifying it. Defendant’s detention was moderately intrusive and there was evidence of an independent investigatory purpose. However, the detention was unduly prolonged and was unrelated to the third party probation search. The officers had no reason to suspect defendant of any wrongdoing. Finally, the circumstances do not reflect “articulable and individualized suspicion” to justify an extended period of detention for the purpose of officer safety. The detention was unreasonable, requiring suppression of the evidence found by police.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: