Narciso v. State, No. 27104.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation397 S.C. 24,723 S.E.2d 369
Docket NumberNo. 27104.
PartiesOsiel Gomez NARCISO, Petitioner, v. STATE of South Carolina, Respondent.
Decision Date14 March 2012

397 S.C. 24
723 S.E.2d 369

Osiel Gomez NARCISO, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of South Carolina, Respondent.

No. 27104.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard Jan. 25, 2012.Decided March 14, 2012.


[723 S.E.2d 370]

Appellate Defender Elizabeth A. Franklin–Best, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, and Assistant Attorney General Matthew J. Friedman, all of Columbia, for Respondent.

Chief Justice TOAL.

[397 S.C. 26] Oseil Gomez Narciso (Petitioner) appeals his conviction for trafficking cocaine, and asserts that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to suppress drug evidence seized by police during a routine traffic stop. Following his conviction, Petitioner signed a Consent Order Granting Belated Direct Appeal (Consent Order) and waived his right to raise any other post-conviction relief (PCR) allegations. Petitioner requests this Court remand his case to determine whether that waiver was entered into knowingly and voluntarily. We affirm the circuit court's order denying Petitioner's motion to suppress, and remand the case for a determination as to whether Petitioner's waiver was entered into knowingly and voluntarily.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On August 3, 2005, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) conducted a drug investigation focusing on Petitioner. Police believed that Petitioner may have been involved in the sale and distribution of cocaine in the Hilton Head/Bluffton area of Beaufort County. A sheriff's deputy received information[397 S.C. 27] that Petitioner might be operating a vehicle in the area with expired license plates and possibly no driver's license. The deputy conducted a traffic stop of Petitioner after confirming that his license plates were indeed expired and suspended. A “back-up officer,” arrived on scene shortly thereafter. Police placed Petitioner under arrest for operating the vehicle without a driver's license and removed him from the vehicle. Police then conducted a “K–9” search of the vehicle. The narcotics-detection dog used in the search alerted on drug residue on the vehicle, and police conducted a search of the cargo compartment. Police seized powdered cocaine from the vehicle, and charged Petitioner with knowingly and intentionally possessing a quantity of powder cocaine with a weight in excess of one hundred grams.

The Beaufort County Grand Jury indicted Petitioner for trafficking cocaine in excess of one hundred grams, and Petitioner proceeded to trial. The jury found Petitioner guilty as indicted. The circuit court sentenced Petitioner to twenty-five years imprisonment. Petitioner did not appeal his conviction or sentence, but subsequently filed a PCR application.

Petitioner claimed in his PCR application that his trial attorney failed to file a timely notice of appeal even after assuring Petitioner that he “had multiple grounds for appeal,” and that he “would almost certainly be successful in overturning the convictions at the appellate level.” According to the Consent Order, Petitioner's trial counsel admitted that he failed to file an appeal even though Petitioner requested one be filed. Thus, the State consented to granting Petitioner a belated direct appeal pursuant to

[723 S.E.2d 371]

White v. State, 263 S.C. 110, 208 S.E.2d 35 (1974) 1. In the same Consent Order, Petitioner “waived his right to raise any other PCR allegations.”

[397 S.C. 28] In a petition for writ of certiorari to this Court, Petitioner asserted that the PCR judge properly found that he did not waive his right to a direct appeal, and requested this Court remand his case to determine whether his waiver of any other PCR allegations was entered into knowingly or voluntarily. This Court granted the petition for writ of certiorari as to whether Petitioner knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to direct appeal, dispensed with further briefing on that question, and elected to proceed with further review of the direct appeal issue—the validity of the stop and search. Additionally, this Court granted review of whether Petitioner's waiver of any other PCR allegations was entered into knowingly and voluntarily.

ISSUES PRESENTED

I. Whether the circuit court erred in admitting evidence obtained as a result of Petitioner's traffic stop.

II. Whether Petitioner's waiver of PCR allegations, other than the belated direct appeal issue, was entered into knowingly and voluntarily.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

On appeal from a motion to suppress on Fourth Amendment grounds, this Court applies a deferential standard of review and will reverse only if there is clear error. State v. Tindall, 388 S.C. 518, 520, 698 S.E.2d 203, 205 (2010) (citation omitted). However, this Court is not barred from conducting its own review of the record to determine whether the trial judge's decision is supported by the evidence. Id.

[397 S.C. 29] [3] On certiorari in a PCR action, the Court applies the “any evidence” standard. Accordingly, this Court will affirm if any evidence of probative value in the record exists to support the findings of the PCR court. Terry v. State, 394 S.C. 62, 66, 714 S.E.2d 326, 328 (2011) (citation omitted).

LAW/ANALYSIS
I. Whether the circuit court erred in admitting evidence obtained as a result of Petitioner's traffic stop.

Petitioner argues that the facts presented by police to the circuit court did not rise to the level of “reasonable suspicion,” and that he was “unreasonably seized.” Thus, according to Petitioner, his Fourth Amendment rights were violated, and this Court should reverse his conviction. We agree with Petitioner that the search incident to arrest in this case violated his Fourth Amendment rights. However, for reasons explained below, the exclusion remedy is unavailable to Petitioner, and thus his conviction will stand.

In New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454, 101 S.Ct. 2860, 69 L.Ed.2d 768 (1981), the United States Supreme Court initially explained the constitutionally permissible scope of a search incident to arrest. In that case, police ordered the driver of a speeding vehicle to pull over to the side of the road and stop. Id. at 455, 101 S.Ct. 2860. The policeman asked to see the driver's license and automobile registration

[723 S.E.2d 372]

and simultaneously smelled burnt marijuana. Id. at 455–56, 101 S.Ct. 2860. The officer directed the occupants out of the car and conducted a pat down of the four men. Id. at 456, 101 S.Ct. 2860. The officer then conducted a search of the passenger compartment of the car, including a black leather jacket belonging to Belton. Id. He unzipped one of the pockets of the jacket and discovered cocaine. Id.

Belton argued that the cocaine had been seized in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Belton, 453 U.S. at 456–57, 101 S.Ct. 2860. The Court stressed the need to provide a “workable rule,” and held that when a policeman has made a lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of an automobile, “he may, as a contemporaneous incident of that arrest, search the passenger compartment of that automobile.” Id. at 459–60, 101 S.Ct. 2860. The Court reasoned that the police [397 S.C. 30] should also be allowed to examine the contents of any containers found within the passenger compartment, “for if the passenger compartment is within reach of the arrestee, so also will containers in it be within his reach.” Id. at 460–61, 101 S.Ct. 2860 (citations omitted).

In the instant case, the police stopped Petitioner as part of an ongoing drug investigation, but primarily because the license tags on his automobile were expired. The police officer asked Petitioner for his driver's license, and verified that Petitioner did not possess a valid driver's license. Thus, he arrested Petitioner, and police searched Petitioner's vehicle incident to that arrest.

Petitioner challenged the search at trial. The circuit court judge initially expressed concern at the vehicle search following a mere traffic stop, but denied Petitioner's motion to suppress:

It concerns me that the law enforcement in this case would risk this investigation by making a search under these circumstances without obtaining a search warrant. It would have been a very easy thing to do. There was just no reason that it needed to be done the way that they did it.... But after looking especially at the case of New York v. Belton, 433 [453] U.S. 454 [101 S.Ct. 2860], is [sic] the only thing that tips the scales in the State's favor in this case; and that is that a search may be made incident to an arrest of the passenger...

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15 practice notes
  • Robinson v. State, No. 27357.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 30, 2014
    ...currently stands and therefore look to the Gant rule for direction on whether the search of the trunk was permissible. Narciso v. State, 397 S.C. 24, 31, 723 S.E.2d 369, 372 (2012) (“Newly announced rules of constitutional criminal procedure must apply retroactively to all cases, pending on......
  • State v. Brown, No. 27202.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 24, 2013
    ...exclusionary rule would not be served. Id. at 2434.[401 S.C. 93]Application of Precedent in the South Carolina Courts In Narciso v. State, 397 S.C. 24, 723 S.E.2d 369 (2012), this Court, in considering a belated appeal 2 from a conviction for trafficking in cocaine, examined the interplay o......
  • State v. Cardwell, Appellate Case No. 2012–213334.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 2, 2015
    ...omitted). The court will only reverse the circuit court's ruling on a motion to suppress when there is clear error. Narciso v. State,397 S.C. 24, 32, 723 S.E.2d 369, 373 (2012)(citation omitted). This court will not reverse a circuit court's findings of fact merely because we would have rea......
  • Robinson v. State, Appellate Case No. 2011-182548
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 26, 2014
    ...currently stands and therefore look to the Gant rule for direction on whether the search of the trunk was permissible. Narciso v. State, 397 S.C. 24, 31, 723 S.E.2d 369, 372 (2012) ("Newly announced rules of constitutional criminal procedure must apply retroactively to all cases, pendi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Robinson v. State, No. 27357.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 30, 2014
    ...currently stands and therefore look to the Gant rule for direction on whether the search of the trunk was permissible. Narciso v. State, 397 S.C. 24, 31, 723 S.E.2d 369, 372 (2012) (“Newly announced rules of constitutional criminal procedure must apply retroactively to all cases, pending on......
  • State v. Brown, No. 27202.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 24, 2013
    ...exclusionary rule would not be served. Id. at 2434.[401 S.C. 93]Application of Precedent in the South Carolina Courts In Narciso v. State, 397 S.C. 24, 723 S.E.2d 369 (2012), this Court, in considering a belated appeal 2 from a conviction for trafficking in cocaine, examined the interplay o......
  • State v. Cardwell, Appellate Case No. 2012–213334.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 2, 2015
    ...omitted). The court will only reverse the circuit court's ruling on a motion to suppress when there is clear error. Narciso v. State,397 S.C. 24, 32, 723 S.E.2d 369, 373 (2012)(citation omitted). This court will not reverse a circuit court's findings of fact merely because we would have rea......
  • Robinson v. State, Appellate Case No. 2011-182548
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 26, 2014
    ...currently stands and therefore look to the Gant rule for direction on whether the search of the trunk was permissible. Narciso v. State, 397 S.C. 24, 31, 723 S.E.2d 369, 372 (2012) ("Newly announced rules of constitutional criminal procedure must apply retroactively to all cases, pendi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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