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Name: People v. Lujano
Case #: E057671
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/26/2014
Summary

Trial court erred by denying motion to suppress evidence because police had no probable cause to justify the warrantless detention of defendant in his home. Police observed a man, Vargas, in front of a home stripping copper wire from an air conditioning unit. Vargas told the officers that he was there visiting his friend Rick, the defendant, and that he was stripping the copper wire because the unit was broken. Seeing that a side door that led into the home was ajar and suspecting there might be a burglar inside, one of the officers leaned inside the home, identified himself as a police officer, and commanded anyone in the house to come to the door. Defendant responded and followed the officer’s instructions to walk backwards out the door. The officer took physical control of defendant, who consented to a search of himself and the home. Police found drugs, firearms, and evidence connecting the defendant to a recent robbery. After the trial court denied his motion to suppress the items found in his home, defendant pleaded guilty to drug and firearm offenses. A jury found him guilty of robbery. On appeal, he argued that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress. Held: Robbery conviction reversed. The Fourth Amendment prohibits arrests and investigative detentions within the home unless the arrest or detention is supported by probable cause and exigent circumstances exist. While the initial contact with Vargas in front of the home did not violate the Fourth Amendment, the warrantless detention of defendant inside his home without probable cause did. When the officer first contacted defendant, he was aware of no specific, articulable facts particular to the defendant suggesting that he might be involved in criminal activity. There was no evidence the door to the home had been forced open and the officer did not observe the defendant doing anything suspicious. Based on the record, it was not reasonably necessary for the officer to immediately detain everyone instead of inquiring about the defendant’s identity, or verifying Vargas’ story.

Defendant was not entitled to reversal of conviction for criminal charges that he pleaded guilty to because he waived his right to appeal and did not obtain a certificate of probable cause. Defendant also argued his judgment of conviction for the offenses to which he pleaded guilty should be vacated, noting that Penal Code section 1538.5, subdivision (m) allows a defendant to appeal the denial of a motion to suppress when the conviction is based on a guilty plea. The appellate court concluded that defendant’s argument was foreclosed because his plea agreement included a waiver of the right to appeal. In these circumstances, a certificate of probable cause is required, which defendant did not obtain. (People v. Mashburn (2013) 222 Cal.App.4th 937.)