People ex rel. E.V., Court of Appeals No. 20CA2087

Citation516 P.3d 542, 2022 COA 53
Case DateMay 19, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

516 P.3d 542
2022 COA 53

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee,

IN the INTEREST OF E.V., Juvenile-Appellant.

Court of Appeals No. 20CA2087

Colorado Court of Appeals, Division II.

Announced May 19, 2022

Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General, Katharine Gillespie, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee

Megan A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Mark Evans, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Juvenile-Appellant

Opinion by JUDGE PAWAR

¶ 1 E.V., a juvenile, appeals his adjudication as a delinquent and sentence for possessing a handgun. We affirm his conviction but conclude that because E.V. was not a child at the time of sentencing, he was not subject to the mandatory sentencing provisions of section 19-2-911(2), C.R.S. 2020.1 We therefore reverse his sentence and remand for resentencing.

I. Background

¶ 2 On the Fourth of July, police received a call that an assault was in progress at a park next to an apartment building, an area in which fights, assaults, and crime were common. When two officers arrived at the park around 10 p.m., there was no assault in progress. Witnesses told the officers that a person who was bloody had been taken into the apartment building. The officers entered the building and walked the full length of the building in an interior hallway without seeing any sign of anyone involved in the assault. At the exit door on the opposite side of the building from where they had entered, they came upon E.V. in the doorway talking to another person. One of the officers recognized the other person from past negative interactions.

¶ 3 As the officers approached E.V. and the other person, the other person fled. One of the officers pursued him and the remaining officer attempted to talk to E.V., who had a drawstring bag on his shoulder. E.V. appeared out of breath and sweaty, refused to talk to the officer, and refused the officer's command to sit down. The officer then grabbed E.V. and forced him to sit down. As the officer was handcuffing E.V., the officer grabbed E.V.’s drawstring bag off his shoulder

516 P.3d 544

and felt what seemed to be a handgun inside. The officer then opened the bag and discovered a handgun.

¶ 4 The prosecution filed a petition in delinquency alleging that E.V. committed the offense of possession of a handgun by a juvenile. E.V. moved to suppress the discovery of the handgun, arguing that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to detain him. The magistrate denied the motion, admitted the evidence of the handgun at the adjudication hearing, and adjudicated E.V. delinquent.

¶ 5 By the time of sentencing, E.V. had turned eighteen. The magistrate determined that a mandatory sentencing provision required E.V. to serve at least five days of detention, which she sentenced him to serve in jail because he was eighteen. The magistrate also stayed the execution of the jail sentence until the completion of this appeal.

¶ 6 E.V. petitioned the district court to review his adjudication and sentence, arguing that the magistrate erred by (1) failing to suppress the evidence of the handgun and (2) imposing a five-day jail sentence. The district court disagreed with these arguments and affirmed. E.V. now appeals to us, again challenging the suppression ruling and jail sentence. We address each argument separately.

II. Suppression

¶ 7 E.V. argues that the magistrate erred by failing to suppress the evidence of the handgun because there was no reasonable suspicion that justified the investigatory stop. A challenge to a suppression ruling presents a mixed question of fact and law. People v. Webb , 2014 CO 36, ¶ 9, 325 P.3d 566. We defer to the lower court's factual findings if they are supported by the record and review the court's legal conclusions de novo. Id. We conclude that suppression was not necessary here.

¶ 8 The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. In general, only searches and seizures supported by a warrant are reasonable and therefore compliant with the Fourth Amendment. See People v. Aarness , 150 P.3d 1271, 1277 (Colo. 2006). Warrantless searches and seizures are unreasonable and therefore prohibited unless they fall within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement. Id.

¶ 9 One such exception allows officers to conduct an investigatory stop if three conditions are met: "(1) there is reasonable suspicion that the individual has committed, or is about to commit, a crime; (2) the purpose of the detention is reasonable; and (3) the character of the detention is reasonable when considered in light of the purpose." Outlaw v. People , 17 P.3d 150, 156 (Colo. 2001). To determine whether officers had reasonable suspicion for a stop, we consider the totality of the...

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