People v. Aarness, No. 05SC237.

Docket NºNo. 05SC237.
Citation150 P.3d 1271
Case DateOctober 23, 2006
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado
150 P.3d 1271
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Petitioner
v.
Joshua M. AARNESS, Respondent.
No. 05SC237.
Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc.
October 23, 2006.
As Modified on Denial of Rehearing January 16, 2007.

[150 P.3d 1273]

John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Katherine A. Hansen, Appellate Division, Criminal Justice Section, Denver, Colorado, Attorneys for Petitioner.

David S. Kaplan, Colorado State Public Defender, Ned R. Jaeckle, Denver, Colorado, Attorneys for Respondent.

Justice BENDER delivered the Opinion of the Court.


I. Introduction

In this appeal, we review and reverse People v. Aarness, 116 P.3d 1233 (Colo.App. 2005), in which the court of appeals held that the trial court erroneously denied defendant Joshua M. Aarness's motion to suppress evidence. While we agree with the court of appeals' application of the two-pronged standard articulated in Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639 (1980), which determines when police may enter a home seeking to arrest the subject of an arrest warrant, we hold that the existence of exigent circumstances constitutes an independent basis justifying police entry into the residence to arrest Aarness.

Before his trial, Aarness moved to suppress all of the evidence seized as fruits of an unlawful search, arguing that the police entered and searched his home in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and article II, section 7 of the Colorado Constitution. The trial court denied the motion.

On appeal, Aarness argued that the police unlawfully entered his dwelling under the standard established by the United States Supreme Court in Payton. The court of appeals agreed, adhering to the two-pronged Payton standard: before entering a residence to execute an arrest warrant, the police must have a reasonable belief that the arrestee both (1) lives in the residence, and (2) is within the residence at the time of entry. Aarness, 116 P.3d at 1237. The court of appeals held that the police entry violated the first prong of the Payton standard because the police had no information that Aarness lived in the apartment where they arrested him. Id. at 1239.

150 P.3d 1274

The court of appeals also held that no exception to the warrant requirement applied to justify the entry. Id. The court found the plain view and protective sweep doctrines inapplicable because the police were not lawfully on the premises, and declined to address whether exigent circumstances justified the entry because the People did not raise the issue below. Id.

The court of appeals concluded that any evidence seized as a result of the unlawful entry must be suppressed and reversed Aarness's convictions. Id. at 1240. The People appealed and we granted certiorari.

Here, we choose to follow the two-pronged Payton standard, and hold that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article II, section 7 of the Colorado Constitution require police to meet two requirements before entering a residence to execute an arrest warrant: (1) police must have a reasonable belief that the suspect lives in the residence, and (2) police must have a reasonable belief that the suspect is within the residence when they enter. The Payton standard does not apply where exigent circumstances exist as an independent basis to justify entry into a home. See Payton, 445 U.S. at 583, 100 S.Ct. 1371 (recognizing that exigent circumstances may justify warrantless entry into a residence to make an arrest); 3 Wayne R. LaFave, Search and Seizure: A Treatise on the Fourth Amendment § 6.1(f) (4th ed.2004) (same).

Although the two-pronged Payton test was not satisfied in this case, exigent circumstances constituted an independent basis to justify police entry. Thus, the entry and subsequent search were constitutional and the trial court's denial of Aarness's motion to suppress evidence was proper even though the Payton standard was not satisfied. Hence, we hold that Aarness's motion to suppress was properly denied by the trial court, and we reverse the court of appeals' judgment and remand this case to the court of appeals to be returned to the trial court to reinstate Aarness's convictions.

II. Facts and Proceedings Below

Police received an anonymous tip that Aarness had arrest warrants outstanding. The tip also gave Aarness's physical description as being about six feet tall and 180 pounds with red hair and green eyes, reported he was armed with a loaded .38 caliber handgun, and provided the address of an apartment where he was located. Police verified the existence of the outstanding arrest warrants, one of which involved a parole violation in California, before going to the named apartment, but neither investigated whether Aarness lived at the apartment nor obtained a search warrant for the premises.

Six police officers went to the named apartment and three of them knocked on the door with their guns drawn. When Aarness's brother opened the door, the officers immediately recognized Aarness from his description, sitting in a recliner. Because Aarness had shoved his hand between the recliner's cushion and armrest, the officers yelled at him, "Show us your hands." The police testified that from their position outside the front door Aarness appeared nervous and excited and seemed to be in a "fight or flight mood."

The police pulled the brother out of the apartment by his shirt and ordered two other individuals out of the apartment because they were concerned for the safety of those present. By the time the other occupants had vacated the apartment, Aarness still had not complied with police orders to raise his hands.

A few seconds later, Aarness put his hands up. The trial court found that the police then entered the apartment to arrest Aarness. The police searched all four persons and found drugs and a loaded handgun clip on Aarness and drugs on another person. One of the occupants informed police that another person remained in the apartment. After receiving no response to their calls and detecting the smell of burned marijuana emanating from the apartment, police again entered the apartment and located the other person, a tenant, in an upstairs bedroom. They found drugs on his person. While in the apartment, police observed drug paraphernalia and a handgun in plain view, but did not seize these items at that time.

150 P.3d 1275

The police secured the apartment and received the tenant's consent to search. Police then searched the apartment and seized drugs, the handgun, and drug paraphernalia. With consent, police also searched an occupant's car and seized a handgun which the occupant said belonged to Aarness.

Aarness was charged with drug and weapons violations. Before trial, he moved to suppress all of the items seized as the fruits of an unlawful search. The trial court ruled that the police actions were lawful because the police were executing an arrest warrant.1 The court reasoned that although police lacked a search warrant, the arrest warrant provided them with the legal authority to enter the apartment and execute the arrest. The trial court thus denied Aarness's motion to suppress and admitted the seized weapons, drugs, and drug paraphernalia into evidence at Aarness's trial.

Aarness appealed his convictions to the court of appeals, arguing that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress because the police did not have a reasonable belief that he lived at the apartment. The court of appeals agreed, applying the United States Supreme Court's holding in Payton, 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, as interpreted by a majority of federal circuit courts. Aarness, 116 P.3d at 1237. Implementing the two-pronged Payton standard, the court held that before entering a dwelling to execute an arrest warrant, police must have a reasonable belief both that the suspect lives in the dwelling and that he is then present within. Id. Because the police had no information that Aarness lived in the apartment, the court of appeals held their entry unlawful pursuant to Payton. Id. at 1238. The court held all of the evidence inadmissible pursuant to the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine because it was seized as a direct result of the unlawful entry. Id. at 1239-40. Thus, the court of appeals reversed Aarness's conviction and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. Id. at 1240.

We granted certiorari on the question of whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that the police entry into Aarness's home was unlawful under Payton.2 The People argue that when the police are executing an arrest warrant in a residence, Payton requires only that they have a reasonable belief that the subject of an arrest warrant is in the residence, not that the arrestee lives there. Aarness argues that the court of appeals correctly interpreted Payton to include two reasonable belief prongs.

To determine whether Aarness's constitutional rights were violated, we interpret Payton's requirements regarding entry of a residence to execute an arrest warrant. We begin with the constitutional prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.

III. Analysis

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article II, section 7 of the Colorado Constitution proscribe all unreasonable searches and seizures. Searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable unless justified by one of the well-established exceptions to the Warrant Clause of the Fourth Amendment. Payton, 445 U.S. at 586, 100 S.Ct. 1371; People v. Hebert, 46 P.3d 473, 478 (Colo.2002).

In Payton, the United States Supreme Court established the constitutional standard for police entry into a residence to execute an arrest warrant. 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639. The Court concluded that "an arrest warrant founded on probable cause implicitly carries with it the limited authority to enter a dwelling in which the

150 P.3d 1276
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63 practice notes
  • Rios v. State, 14-18-00886-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • August 3, 2021
    ...at 18; see also State v. Spietz, 531 P.2d 521, 525 (Alaska 1975); People v. Celis, 93 P.3d 1027, 1033-36 (Cal. 2004); People v. Aarness, 150 P.3d 1271, 1280 (Colo. 2006) (holding seizure was constitutional because "the police had an articulable suspicion that another occupant remained insid......
  • People v. Kutlak, Supreme Court Case No. 13SC499
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • January 11, 2016
    ...affirm a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress on different grounds than those relied upon by the trial court. People v. Aarness, 150 P.3d 1271, 1277 (Colo.2006). Moreover, the United States Supreme Court has made clear that the Edwards analysis requires courts to first determine whe......
  • People v. Stewart, Court of Appeals No. 15CA0717
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 27, 2017
    ...scope of the permissible intrusion is determined by the exigency justifying the initiation of the warrantless entry. People v. Aarness , 150 P.3d 1271, 1277 (Colo. 2006) (citation omitted). ¶ 29 The People argue on appeal that the instruction correctly stated the law, but they cite to a Uta......
  • People v. Alemayehu, Court of Appeals No. 17CA1745
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • May 20, 2021
    ...on the "plain view" exception — but not the "vehicle paperwork" or "automobile" exceptions — in the trial court. See People v. Aarness , 150 P.3d 1271, 1277 (Colo. 2006) ("On appeal, a party may defend the trial court's judgment on any ground supported by the record, whether relied upon or ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
64 cases
  • Rios v. State, 14-18-00886-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • August 3, 2021
    ...at 18; see also State v. Spietz, 531 P.2d 521, 525 (Alaska 1975); People v. Celis, 93 P.3d 1027, 1033-36 (Cal. 2004); People v. Aarness, 150 P.3d 1271, 1280 (Colo. 2006) (holding seizure was constitutional because "the police had an articulable suspicion that another occupant remained ......
  • People v. Kutlak, Supreme Court Case No. 13SC499
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • January 11, 2016
    ...affirm a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress on different grounds than those relied upon by the trial court. People v. Aarness, 150 P.3d 1271, 1277 (Colo.2006). Moreover, the United States Supreme Court has made clear that the Edwards analysis requires courts to first determine whe......
  • People v. Stewart, Court of Appeals No. 15CA0717
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 27, 2017
    ...scope of the permissible intrusion is determined by the exigency justifying the initiation of the warrantless entry. People v. Aarness , 150 P.3d 1271, 1277 (Colo. 2006) (citation omitted). ¶ 29 The People argue on appeal that the instruction correctly stated the law, but they cite to a Uta......
  • People v. Alemayehu, Court of Appeals No. 17CA1745
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • May 20, 2021
    ...exception — but not the "vehicle paperwork" or "automobile" exceptions — in the trial court. See People v. Aarness , 150 P.3d 1271, 1277 (Colo. 2006) ("On appeal, a party may defend the trial court's judgment on any ground supported by the record, whether relied upo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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