In re Rudy F.

Decision Date21 April 2004
Docket NumberNo. B166700.,B166700.
Citation12 Cal.Rptr.3d 483,117 Cal.App.4th 1124
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesIn re RUDY F., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. The People, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Rudy F., Defendant and Appellant.

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Robert R. Anderson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C. Hamanaka, Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey B. Kahan and Michael J. Wise, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

BOREN, P.J.

Rudy F., a minor, appeals from the order declaring him a ward of the court (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 602) upon a finding that he received stolen property (Pen.Code, § 496, subd. (a)) and gave false information to a peace officer (Pen.Code, § 148.9, subd. (a)), based upon his admission entered after denial of his motion to suppress evidence under Welfare and Institutions Code section 700.1. The juvenile court committed appellant to the custody of the probation officer for placement in the Community Camp Placement Program for a period of four months. Appellant contends that the juvenile court erroneously denied his motion to suppress evidence obtained during a search of his residence.

Appellant lived with his sister in her house in Palmdale. Sheriff's deputies searched the house and found guns and ammunition hidden under a mattress in the sister's bedroom. The trial court found that consent for the search was not voluntary, and that ruling is not challenged on appeal. But the trial court also ruled that appellant had no legal standing to contest the search of his sister's bedroom. We hold that appellant, as a resident of the family dwelling, had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the residence and reverse.

MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE

Pursuant to Penal Code section 1538.5, appellant brought a motion to suppress evidence.1 At the hearing, before introducing evidence, the prosecutor asserted that she did not believe appellant had standing to challenge the legality of the search because the seized property was found in the bedroom his sister and her boyfriend shared. The defense argued that appellant resided at the searched property and was charged with a crime, which gave him standing. The juvenile court took the standing issue under submission, to be decided after hearing the evidence.

The prosecution's evidence.

On February 23, 2003, Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Sean Calvo and his partner, Deputy Buckley, went to 39322 10th Street East, in Palmdale. William M. resided there with his girlfriend, appellant's sister, Evelyn F. William M. answered the door. Four or five children were in the house when the deputies arrived. Deputy Calvo asked for permission to enter and search, as he had received information there were stolen firearms in the residence or the garage. William M. responded that he wanted to wait until Evelyn F. returned, because it was also her house.

After waiting five or ten minutes, William M. telephoned Evelyn F. to find out what he should do. He gave the telephone to Deputy Calvo, who explained why he was there. Evelyn F. told him to wait and stated she would be home in 10 or 15 minutes. The deputies waited approximately an hour, but Evelyn F. failed to return. At that point, Deputy Calvo asked William M. if he would sign a consent to search, which he did. Neither Deputy Calvo, Deputy Buckley nor another deputy who had arrived at the scene made any threats in order to induce William M. to sign.

After signing the consent form, William M. took the deputies to the garage and then to appellant's bedroom, where they found nothing. He next led them to the bedroom he and Evelyn F. shared, where, under the mattress, the deputies found three guns, one matching the description of the victim's shotgun, another inside a case bearing the victim's initials, and a third gun. They also found a package of shotgun rounds.

Near the end of the search, Evelyn F. arrived home. She told the deputies that they had to leave. Deputy Calvo told her they were almost done, and she told them to finish, which they did within five or ten minutes.

The defense's evidence.

William M. testified that he lived at 39322 10th Street East, which Evelyn F. owned. On February 23, 2003, his 10-year-old, stepdaughter, Nadeen M., answered the door when the deputies arrived. Neither Nadeen M. nor William M. invited the deputies into the residence. William M. and Evelyn F.'s four children and two children of neighbors were in the residence at that time. Deputy Calvo told William M. that a neighbor saw someone bringing guns through the garage, they were looking for appellant, and they had probable cause to search the residence. William M. informed the deputies that appellant was not there. When William M. telephoned Evelyn F., Deputy Calvo spoke with her and was told to wait until she arrived home.

After waiting a bit longer, Deputy Calvo told William M.:" `If you don't sign [the consent to search form], we can take your kids away,'" and the deputies took out four booking forms "so they could start filling them out, [to] take the kids away."2 William M. told the deputies that he needed to speak with Evelyn F. first, but he was unable to reach her when he telephoned her again. Frightened that his children would be taken, he signed the consent form a few minutes later. When he did so, the section indicating the places to be searched and the items sought were blank, and only the residence address was listed.

The deputies searched the house and garage. When Evelyn F. arrived home, she asked them for a warrant and was told they did not require one because William M. had consented. The guns were found in the bedroom shared by William M. and Evelyn F., under the mattress.

Nadeen M. and a neighbor's child, who were at the residence during the search, testified substantially corroborating William M.'s testimony, specifically regarding the purported threat by the deputies to take the children.

Evelyn F. testified for the defense that appellant, 15 years old, had lived with her since he was 7 and "had access to the entire house." On February 23, 2003, she was at the market when she received the telephone call from William M., who said that the police were at her home and wanted to speak with her. She asked Deputy Calvo if he had a search warrant, and he said he did not, "`But if you want one that's fine. I'll [ ] just sit here and wait until somebody else gets me one.'" She told him he did not have permission to search, and to wait until she returned. She called her attorney, who told her that it was her right to insist on a search warrant. When she arrived home, she told the deputy that her attorney said that he needed to obtain a search warrant. Deputy Calvo claimed there was no need to do so because William M. had signed a consent.

The juvenile court ruling.

The juvenile court stated: "The court has heard the entirety of the evidence, and two things are very clear. The first thing is it is very clear that the consent given in this case by [William M.] was not free, nor was it voluntary. It was a clear violation, the court believes, of the search and seizure laws in this case. That's one. [¶] Two, the second issue, is despite the fact that the search and seizure in this case was unlawful, the court does not believe that [ ] Rudy F. had standing in this case given the totality of the circumstances presented to this court, and based on the authorities that the court relied upon. As a result, the motion to suppress pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 700.1 will be denied."

After the juvenile court ruled, appellant admitted the allegations that he received stolen property and gave false information to a peace officer.

DISCUSSION

Appellant's sole contention is that the juvenile court erred in ruling that he lacked standing to challenge the legality of the search of his home. He argues that he had standing because he "is a permanent resident and family member in the residence searched by police. It is the home he grew up in, having lived there with his sister and legal guardian [Evelyn F.], for eight years prior to the search."

Respondent counters by asserting that even if appellant resided with his sister, he had no reasonable expectation of privacy in her bedroom and, hence, lacked standing to challenge the legality of the search. Moreover, even if he had standing and the search was illegal, the seized evidence was admissible by virtue of the "inevitable discovery" doctrine because Deputy Calvo stated, in response to Evelyn F.'s inquiry as to whether he had a search warrant, "`No, I don't. But if you want one that's fine. I'll [ ] just sit here and wait until somebody else gets me one.'" Respondent's contentions lack merit.

"The standard of appellate review of a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress is well established. We defer to the trial court's factual findings, express or implied, where supported by substantial evidence. In determining whether, on the facts so found, the search or seizure was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, we exercise our independent judgment. [Citations.]" (People v. Glaser (1995) 11 Cal.4th 354, 362, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 425, 902 P.2d 729; see also In re Brian A. (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 1168, 1173, 219 Cal.Rptr. 361.)

I. Voluntariness of consent.

Where the prosecutor relies on consent to a search, the prosecutor has the burden of establishing that consent given for a search was freely and voluntarily given. (Bumper v. North Carolina (1968) 391 U.S. 543, 548, 88 S.Ct. 1788, 20 L.Ed.2d 797.) Here, the juvenile court found that that burden was not met as "the consent [to search] given in this case by [William M.] was not free, nor was it voluntary. It was a clear violation, ... of the search and seizure laws...."3 This finding is not challenged on appeal.4

II. Standing.

Despite finding the search to be...

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