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Name: People v. Hill
Case #: A097724
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/26/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 8/25/04

The trial court denied Hill’s motion to suppress statements and evidence seized from his motel room because Hill was on probation and had no reasonable expectation of privacy. Hill argued that the officers were wrongly informed that he was on parole, and did not learn that he was on probation with a search condition until after the search had taken place. After appellant’s conviction for receiving stolen property was affirmed, the California Supreme Court granted review and held the matter pending its decision in People v. Sanders. It then transferred the case back to the Court of Appeal with directions to vacate the decision and reconsider in light of Sanders. The appellate court here again affirmed, finding Sanders distinguishable. In Sanders, the salient circumstances were the officers ignorance of the parole search condition. Here, the salient circumstances were more complex. The officer was not unlawfully invading a residence and seeking justification afterwards by discovering a search condition. Instead, he took proper steps to insure that the search was lawful: he asked for consent, and when refused, he called to determine whether Hill was on probation. Hill was on probation, but the officer was misinformed. He then began the process of securing a search warrant. Only when the dispatcher called with more misinformation (that Hill was on parole) did the officer enter the room without a warrant. If the only reason for the search was the parole misinformation, it would not have been lawful. However, appellant actually was on probation, and but for the dispatcher’s incorrect information, the officer could have searched the room. The officer’s actions do not present a danger of legitimizing unlawful police misconduct.