State v. Sanchez
Case # A154007
Full Text of Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A154007.pdf
Defendant Sanchez was involved in a crash with a parked car at approximately 5:00am. After speaking with the owner of the parked vehicle, Sanchez continued to her home while the owner of the other car reported the crash to police. Police responded to the report and after locating defendant’s truck in her driveway they knocked on her door and received no response. Officer Lane then proceeded through a latched gate, into a fenced backyard, and began looking through the windows of the house with a flashlight. One of these windows was open with a curtain obscuring the officers view. Officer Lane pushed the curtain aside, saw a couple in a bed and then illuminated the room with his flashlight, announced his presence, and ordered the couple to go to the front door.
After meeting at the front door, Sanchez informed the four officers present on the scene that she did not wish to speak with them. A shift change was occurring at this time and an additional officer who was assigned to the day shift, Officer Hagan, arrived on the scene. During his contact with Sanchez, Officer Lane smelled alcohol on her breath and informed Officer Hagan of this observation. Officer Hagan advised Sanchez of her Miranda rights and she agreed to speak with him. During his questioning, Sanchez admitted to having a few drinks and driving and the officer was able to detect an odor of alcohol. Officer Hagan continued his DUII investigation by asking Sanchez to perform field sobriety tests which she agreed to do and subsequently failed. During this time, the victim of the crash arrived on scene and identified Sanchez as the driver who crashed into their vehicle. Officer Hagan then arrested Sanchez for DUII and Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver.
Prior to trial, Sanchez filed a motion to suppress “all evidence discovered pursuant to the unlawful search of her property, and the fruits thereof” relying upon Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Sanchez argued that Officer Lane’s warrantless entry into her backyard was unlawful and all evidence that stemmed from the warrantless entry should be suppressed because it was gained through an exploitation of an unlawful act by law enforcement. The trial court ruled that the Officer Lane’s entry in the Sanchez’s backyard was an unlawful search and all evidence obtained from that time until Officer Hagan contacted defendant should be suppressed. However, the trial court further ruled that evidence obtained by Officer Hagan should not be suppressed because Officer Hagan had not been involved in the initial unlawful conduct, had not coerced or intimidated Sanchez, and Sanchez voluntarily agreed to speak with Officer Hagan. Sanchez was subsequently convicted by a jury of DUII and Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver.
On appeal, Sanchez assigns error to the trial court not excluding all of the evidence discovered by law enforcement after the initial unlawful conduct. Sanchez argued that the unlawful search led directly to an unlawful seizure which led directly to the DUII investigation. Additionally, Sanchez notes that Officer Hagan’s investigation was temporally linked to the unlawful seizure as the unlawful seizure was ongoing at the time Officer Hagan initiated contact with Sanchez. The Court of Appeals determined that Officer Hagan’s contact with Sanchez was the direct result of Officer Lane’s unlawful conduct and was not attenuated. The Court notes that their were multiple flagrant violations of well-established rules regarding searches and seizures: the initial warrantless entry into the backyard was a violation; looking through the windows with a flashlight was a violation; and the order to go to the front door was a violation. These violations directly led to the DUII investigation which the Court determined began when Officer Lane smelled alcohol on Sanchez’s breath and relayed this observation to Officer Hagan. The Court determined that Sanchez’s consent to speak with Officer Hagan, and to perform field sobriety tests, was temporally connected to the violations and that those violations were exploited by Officer Hagan. The Court held that the trial court erred when it did not suppress the evidence obtained by Officer Hagan, that the error was not harmless, and that the DUII conviction should be reversed and remanded. The Court upheld the conviction for Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver due to much of that evidence having been obtained prior to the unlawful entry into the backyard by Officer Lane.