Trial court properly denied motion to suppress on estoppel grounds, where defendant gave police a false name and a record check failed to reveal he was on searchable probation. After robbing a man in the street, Mathews accidentally shot himself in the groin and shin while running away. He was dropped off at the hospital, where he provided a false name. Police arrived at the hospital and ran a record check on the false name. When Mathews later provided his real name, a record check revealed he was on probation with a search condition. At some point, police seized Mathews’ cell phone, which led to the discovery of additional evidence tying defendant to the robbery. Defendant moved to suppress the cell phone and the evidence derived from it. The trial court denied the motion on estoppel grounds. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. Generally, an officer must be aware of a probation search condition in order for the condition to justify a warrantless search. However, People v. Watkins (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 1403 held that even though an officer was not aware of a probation search condition when he conducted the search, the defendant was estopped from challenging the legality of the search as a probation search because he had concealed that he was subject to the condition by lying about his identity. Like the defendant in Watkins, Mathews prevented police from learning of his search condition by lying about his identity. Thus, estoppel triggered from the point the police received the results of the record check on the false name. Because there was substantial evidence police received the results of the record check before they seized Mathews’ phone, he was estopped from challenging the admission of his phone and the evidence derived from it. Mathews had also moved to suppress the officer’s observations of his wounds and clothing at the hospital before the results of the record check. However, any error in failing to suppress this evidence was harmless because similar evidence was introduced through other sources.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A146652.PDF