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Name: People v. Hoag
Case #: C031031
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/28/2000
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 1/17/01

The court affirmed a conviction for possession of marijuana for sale finding no error in denying a motion to suppress evidence, notwithstanding the fact that officers executing a search warrant had not waited more than 15 to 20 seconds after giving knock-notice before forcibly entering the home of the defendant and his fiancee/roommate. At the outset, the court found that the defendant had standing to challenge the non-compliance with knock- notice even though he was not home at the time of the search. His Fourth Amendment interests include his right to exclude others from his home and an expectation of privacy over his family and invitees, in this case his fiancee. However, the lead opinion found the early entry, although a technical violation, constituted “substantial compliance” with the policies served by knock-notice, in that no one was ever placed at risk by the officers’ failure to wait. [Note, the lead opinion did not have majority support on the “substantial compliance” holding.] Justice Morrison concurred, but found the entry “reasonable” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The use of the term “substantial compliance” obscures Fourth Amendment analysis. Also, the doctrine of inevitable discovery should govern this case, although the United States Supreme Court has not expressly applied it in the context of knock-notice. [Note: the concurring opinion does not have majority support on “reasonableness” or “inevitable discovery” holdings.] Justice Sims dissented. The entry was neither “reasonable” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, nor did it constitute “substantial compliance” with knock-notice. Inevitable discovery does not apply because, under California case law, knock-notice compliance is not excused by exigent circumstances, the evidence thus obtained must be suppressed. Proposition 8 does not overrule California case law. The United States Supreme Court has not ruled that inevitable discovery applies to knock-notice violations. Application of the doctrine of inevitable discovery renders a violation remediless. As there is no deterrence, there is, in effect no rule, an improper interpretation of the Fourth Amendment cases.