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Name: People v. Robinson
Case #: A126064
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 08/07/2012

Testing a key in a front door lock to a residence was not an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment because the intrusion was minimal and served legitimate governmental interests. Appellant, a passenger in a Volkswagen, aimed a rifle at a police officer who was investigating a burglary and several gunshots that she heard in the area. The Volkswagen stopped at 221 Sanford and the driver and appellant fled on foot, while appellant pointed the gun at the officer a second time. The officer retrieved the keys from the car and used them to unlock the door at 221 Sanford. A warrantless search of the residence followed. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of appellant’s motion to suppress evidence based on the independent source doctrine after reconsidering the issue in light of United States v. Jones (2012) 565 U.S. ____ [132 S.Ct. 945, 181 L.Ed.2d 911], which held that placement of a GPS on a vehicle constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment. It was proper to consider the information that the police obtained by testing the key in the front door in determining whether a search warrant affidavit was sufficient to establish probable cause absent information that was obtained by the illegal entry into the residence. Assuming that testing the key in the lock was a search, the search was not unreasonable. Under the minimal intrusion exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, a minimally intrusive action may be reasonable in view of the government interests it serves. Testing a key in a lock is a limited investigatory procedure that reveals only the likelihood of a connection between the possessor of the key and a given location. Significantly, the key testing did not disclose anything about the contents of the house and only disclosed public information (the location of the residence) in which the defendant had little expectation of privacy. The key testing was based on reasonable suspicion and served legitimate investigative purposes by potentially expediting the capture of an armed assailant. The court distinguished Jones, noting that the decision did not consider under what circumstances a warrantless minimal intrusion can be reasonable because the argument was forfeited in that case.

Sentence enhancements can be imposed under both Penal Code sections 186.22, subdivision (b)(1)(C) and 12022.53, subdivision (b) where a defendant personally used a firearm in a specified felony. Section 12022.53, subdivision (e)(2) expressly authorizes imposition of both the section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1)(C) and section 12022.53, subdivision (b) enhancements when the specified criteria is met. Although subdivision (e)(2) is in conflict with Penal Code section 1170.1, subdivision (f), prohibiting imposition of multiple firearm enhancements, it is the more specific statute and, as such, prevails.