23 Cal.4th 789, S072243, People v. Robles

Docket Nº:S072243
Citation:23 Cal.4th 789, 97 Cal.Rptr.2d 914, 3 P.3d 311
Party Name:People v. Robles
Case Date:July 17, 2000
Court:Supreme Court of California

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23 Cal.4th 789

97 Cal.Rptr.2d 914, 3 P.3d 311

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,


ANTONIO MARCOS ROBLES, Defendant and Appellant.


Supreme Court of California

July 17, 2000

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Stephen Gilbert, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Daniel E. Lungren and Bill Lockyer, Attorneys General, George Williamson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, Robert M. Foster, Jeffrey J. Koch, Larissa Karpovics Hendren and Michael Murphy, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.



Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained in the garage of his residence as a result of a warrantless search and seizure by police. The trial court denied the motion because defendant's brother, with whom defendant lived, had agreed to submit his person and property to warrantless police searches and seizures as a condition of probation. It is

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undisputed that the officers involved were unaware of the brother's probation condition when they obtained the challenged evidence. We conclude that defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were violated and that his suppression motion should have been granted.

Factual and Procedural Background

Rolando Sanchez's car was stolen on or about October 13, 1995. Ten days later, Sanchez saw defendant drive it into a store parking lot. Defendant put gasoline in the car and drove it away.

Sanchez called his sister and asked her to notify the police. Meanwhile, he drove around the area and saw his car parked in an alley. He also saw defendant with two other people. When Sanchez subsequently returned with the police to the scene, defendant was present but the car was no longer in view. Sanchez identified defendant to police as the man who had driven his car.

While defendant was detained by police, Officer Ryan Stack ascertained the car's description and license plate number and began searching the city alley where it had been spotted minutes earlier. He observed a series of garages bordering the alley, unmarked by any address or apartment number, but did not see the car.

Knowing that defendant resided in unit C of the apartment complex (apartment C) to which the unmarked garages were connected, Stack approached a closed garage that had an aluminum door with a rip measuring one to two inches. Stack looked through the rip without a flashlight and saw a car with a license plate number matching that of Sanchez's stolen car.

Stack then went to apartment C, but no one answered his knock. He returned to the alley and opened the unlocked garage door. Although defendant was detained nearby, his consent to enter the garage was not sought.

Once inside the garage, the officers observed that the car's ignition and steering column had been damaged in a manner that would permit the car to be started without a key. They also saw a can of blue spray paint in the garage and noticed that the car's trunk lock was damaged, covered by tape and painted blue. A forensic specialist was called to the scene, and a partial palm print was lifted from the interior of the car. The palm print matched defendant's left palm.

The next day, another police officer learned that defendant's brother, Armando, also lived in apartment C and apparently shared authority over the

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garage. Several days later, the police discovered that Armando was on probation and subject to a probation search clause.

Defendant moved to suppress all evidence seized from the garage, including the evidence that Sanchez's car was recovered therefrom, the evidence of the damage to the ignition and trunk of the car, the spray paint evidence, and the palm print evidence gleaned from the car's interior. The trial court denied the motion, finding all of it admissible due to Armando's probation search condition. At trial, the prosecution presented the evidence as part of its case-in-chief. Defendant was convicted and sentenced to a total of seven years in state prison, five years for the car theft (Veh. Code, § 10851, subd. (a)) and one year each for two prior prison terms (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (b)).

The Court of Appeal reversed. It concluded that defendant's Fourth Amendment rights had been violated and that the challenged evidence was not otherwise admissible under the inevitable discovery doctrine.


We granted review to consider two questions. First, may the probation search condition of defendant's brother be used to validate the warrantless search of the garage, where the police did not know of the condition at the time of the search? 1 Second, is the challenged evidence admissible under the doctrine of inevitable discovery? We address these issues in order.

A. Armando's Probation Search Condition

Under California law, issues relating to the suppression of evidence derived from police searches and seizures must be reviewed under federal constitutional standards. (People v. Ayala (2000) 23 Cal.4th 225, 254-255 [96 Cal.Rptr.2d 682]; People v. Bradford (1997) 15 Cal.4th 1229, 1291 [65 Cal.Rptr.2d 145].)

The Fourth Amendment guarantees "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" by police officers and other government officials. (U.S. Const., 4th Amend.) The touchstone of Fourth Amendment analysis is whether a

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person has a constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy, that is, whether he or she has manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the object of the challenged search that society is willing to recognize as reasonable. (California v. Ciraolo (1986) 476 U.S. 207, 211 [106 S.Ct. 1809, 1811, 90 L.Ed.2d 210]; In re Tyrell J. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 68, 83 [32 Cal.Rptr.2d 33] (Tyrell J.), cert. den. sub nom. Tyrell J. v. California (1995) 514 U.S. 1068 [115 S.Ct. 1701, 131 L.Ed.2d 563]; see People v. Ayala, supra, 23 Cal.4th at p. 255.)

"[P]rivate residences are places in which the individual normally expects privacy free of governmental intrusion not authorized by a warrant, and that expectation is plainly one that society is prepared to recognize as justifiable." (United States v. Karo (1984) 468 U.S. 705, 714 [104 S.Ct. 3296, 3303, 82 L.Ed.2d 530]; see Steagald v. United States (1981) 451 U.S. 204, 211-212 [101 S.Ct. 1642, 1647-1648, 68 L.Ed.2d 38]; Payton v. New York (1980) 445 U.S. 573, 589-590 [100 S.Ct. 1371, 1381-1382, 63 L.Ed.2d 639].) Likewise, a garage that is attached or adjacent to a home may give rise to a legitimate expectation of privacy therein. (E.g., Taylor v. United States (1932) 286 U.S. 1, 5-6 [52 S.Ct. 466, 467, 76 L.Ed. 951]; People v. Dugan (1980) 102 Mich.App. 497, 504-506 [302 N.W.2d 209, 212].) Under the Fourth Amendment, a warrantless search of such an area is unreasonable per se unless it falls within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement, for example, where consent to the search has been given. (Schneckloth v. Bustamonte (1973) 412 U.S. 218, 219 [93 S.Ct. 2041, 2043, 36 L.Ed.2d 854]; People v. Bravo (1987) 43 Cal.3d 600, 609 [238 Cal.Rptr. 282].)

In California, a person may validly consent in advance to warrantless searches and seizures in exchange for the opportunity to avoid serving a state prison term. (People v. Bravo, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 608; People v. Mason (1971) 5 Cal.3d 759, 764-766 [97 Cal.Rptr. 302].) Warrantless searches are justified in the probation context because they aid in deterring further offenses by the probationer and in monitoring compliance with the terms of probation. (People v. Mason, supra, 5 Cal.3d at pp. 763-764; see People v. Bravo, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 610.) By allowing close supervision of probationers, probation search conditions serve to promote rehabilitation and reduce recidivism while helping to protect the community from potential harm by probationers. (See Griffin v. Wisconsin (1987) 483 U.S. 868, 875 [107 S.Ct. 3164, 3169, 97 L.Ed.2d 709] [upholding a warrantless probation search under a state regulation requiring reasonable grounds for searches].)

We recently relied upon the "common authority" theory of consent in recognizing that if persons live with a probationer, shared areas of their

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residence may be searched based on the probationer's advance consent. (People v. Woods (1999) 21 Cal.4th 668, 675-676 [88 Cal.Rptr.2d 88], cert. den. sub nom. Woods v. California (2000) 529 U.S. 1023 [120 S.Ct. 1429, 146 L.Ed.2d 319] [no dissenting votes noted]; see generally United States v. Matlock (1974) 415 U.S. 164, 171 & fn. 7 [94 S.Ct. 988, 993, 39 L.Ed.2d 242].) Here it is undisputed that defendant's brother, who had agreed to warrantless searches of his "property, including any residence premise[s]" as a condition of probation, lived with defendant in apartment C on the day police entered the garage. 2 The People, relying principally on People v. Woods, supra, 21 Cal.4th 668, contend that Armando's search condition furnished legal justification for the warrantless search and seizure, notwithstanding the searching officers' ignorance of the condition at the time of their actions. This argument proves too much.

In People v. Woods, supra, 21 Cal.4th 668, two persons who resided with a probationer challenged the constitutionality of a warrantless search of their home by a police officer who relied on the authority of a known search clause to seek incriminating evidence against another party residing in the home. (21 Cal.4th at pp. 672-673.) In evaluating the legality of the search, we found it appropriate to apply an objective standard. In the context of probation...

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