People v. Douglas

Decision Date28 September 2015
Docket NumberA140279
Citation193 Cal.Rptr.3d 79,240 Cal.App.4th 855
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Lathel DOUGLAS, Defendant and Appellant.

Counsel for Defendant and Appellant: Paul Kleven, by appointment of the Court of Appeal under the First District Appellate Project's Independent-Case System.

Counsel for Plaintiff and Respondent: Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General of California, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Eric D. Share, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Ronald E. Niver, Deputy Attorney General.

Streeter, J. Lathel Douglas, after being apprehended in Richmond carrying a loaded .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun, pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm ( Pen.Code,1 § 29800 ) and admitted a prior prison commitment (§ 667.5, subd. (b)) in exchange for a lower-term prison sentence. The issue on appeal is whether the weapon seized from him should have been suppressed as the fruit of an unconstitutional detention.

The People justify the detention on the ground Douglas was on post-release community supervision (PRCS) and therefore subject to a mandatory search condition. (§§ 3450, 3453, subd. (f), 3465.) Douglas claims this rationale does not apply because the police officer who stopped him did not have sufficient advance knowledge of his search condition to lawfully detain him. We conclude the officer's knowledge gave him an "objectively reasonable belief" Douglas was on PRCS. Since that belief also proved to be accurate, the detention was lawful and we affirm the judgment.


On May 19, 2013, Richmond Police Detective Miles Bailey was on duty with a special investigation division parole unit. One of Detective Bailey's duties was to monitor individuals who were on probation and parole. Shortly before 9:30 p.m., Detective Bailey was in uniform and riding in the passenger seat of a marked police patrol car westbound on Nevin Avenue near 21st Street when he spotted Douglas sitting at the wheel of a parked car. Bailey, with a partner that night, was investigating "recent gun violence" in the area. He recognized Douglas because he had arrested him in 2011 for a firearms-related offense. He may also have contacted Douglas on a few occasions since then but could not recall how recently.

Detective Bailey testified he "knew [Douglas] was on post-risk [sic : postrelease] community supervision probation" because part of his job was to "regularly monitor to see who is on probation and parole." Bailey decided to speak with Douglas and search him to ensure he was complying with the terms of his PRCS. Although in the course of his monitoring duties Bailey routinely used a countywide law enforcement database known as the Automated Regional Information Exchange System (ARIES) and lists regularly supplied by the probation department, he did not consult ARIES on the spot before initiating contact with Douglas because he did not have time. He did not recall when he had last checked Douglas's status on ARIES, but he did recall having seen Douglas's name on a list of active probationers issued by the probation department sometime within the preceding two months.

In an apparent attempt to pull away from the curb, Douglas moved his car forward a few feet as Detective Bailey approached on foot, which made Bailey think Douglas was trying to flee. Bailey ordered Douglas to stop his car. Douglas put the car in reverse, and Bailey again told him to stop. When Douglas's car came to a stop, Bailey ordered him out of the car. For his own safety, Bailey pinned Douglas between the car's door and frame. A short scuffle ensued, and Bailey handcuffed Douglas. Bailey testified at the preliminary hearing that, as he was handcuffing Douglas, a loaded .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun fell from Douglas's hand or arm area to the floorboard of the car. After being handcuffed, and in response to Bailey's question, Douglas admitted he was on probation. Bailey then conducted a patdown search of Douglas for additional weapons.

Douglas's probation officer testified that Douglas had been on PRCS and was originally scheduled to be discharged on April 17, 2013, about a month before his encounter with Detective Bailey. Douglas's original discharge date was tolled for 36 days, however, because his PRCS was suspended for failing to keep in touch with his probation officer.2 His PRCS file was therefore not closed until three days after he was arrested in this case.

Douglas filed a motion to suppress the gun as evidence, arguing it was the fruit of an unlawful detention. After hearing the above testimony, the judge found that Detective Bailey "had sufficient evidence to make contact and ... before a detention was ever accomplished ... the defendant moved the vehicle in such a manner as to increase the probability that there was probable cause to believe that he was in violation of his probation, and/or in violation of the law, and ... the officer acted within his ... role as a peace officer in stopping the vehicle and searching the defendant and the vehicle." Upon denial of his suppression motion, Douglas entered a guilty plea pursuant to a plea agreement, admitted the enhancement, and was sentenced to 16 months in state prison.


I. Douglas's Contentions

Douglas challenges the constitutionality of the detention that led to Detective Bailey's discovery of the weapon. He contends Bailey did not have actual, current knowledge he was on searchable PRCS3 and also did not have reasonable suspicion he was engaged in criminal activity. Hence, he claims, the People failed to prove an exception to the warrant requirement.

We see the appeal as raising several distinct but closely related questions: (1) Must an officer who knows an individual is on PRCS also have specific knowledge of a search condition imposed upon him or her? (2) What quantum of "advance knowledge" must an officer have of a subject's PRCS status before conducting a PRCS detention and search? (3) Was there substantial evidence that Detective Bailey knew in advance that Douglas was on PRCS, or did his failure to check a current computer database of probation information render his detention of Douglas unreasonable? (4) Was Detective Bailey's belief that Douglas was subject to PRCS search objectively reasonable?

II. Legal Overview and Standard of Review
A. The Fourth Amendment and Standard of Review

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." ( U.S. Const., 4th Amend.)

A seizure of the person occurs " ‘whenever a police officer ‘‘by means of physical force or show of authority’’ restrains the liberty of a person to walk away.’ " ( People v. Celis (2004) 33 Cal.4th 667, 673, 16 Cal.Rptr.3d 85, 93 P.3d 1027 ; see Michigan v. Chesternut (1988) 486 U.S. 567, 573, 108 S.Ct. 1975, 100 L.Ed.2d 565 [" ‘if, in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave’ "]; People v. Brown (2015) 61 Cal.4th 968, 976-977, 190 Cal.Rptr.3d 583, 353 P.3d 305 [same].) There are two different bases for detaining an individual short of having probable cause to arrest: (1) reasonable suspicion to believe the individual is involved in criminal activity ( Terry v. Ohio (1968) 392 U.S. 1, 30-31, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 ( Terry )); and (2) advance knowledge that the individual is on searchable probation or parole ( In re Jaime P. (2006) 40 Cal.4th 128, 136, 139, 51 Cal.Rptr.3d 430, 146 P.3d 965 ( Jaime P. ); People v. Reyes (1998) 19 Cal.4th 743, 754, 80 Cal.Rptr.2d 734, 968 P.2d 445 ( Reyes )). Douglas contends neither standard was met in this case, and since the gun was found as a result of the initial detention, it should have been suppressed. In meeting a challenge to the lawfulness of a warrantless search or seizure, the People are obligated to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the search or seizure fell within one of the recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement. ( People v. James (1977) 19 Cal.3d 99, 106, fn. 4, 137 Cal.Rptr. 447, 561 P.2d 1135 ; People v. Rios (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 584, 590, 122 Cal.Rptr.3d 96.) Probation and parole searches are among those exceptions. ( People v. Schmitz (2012) 55 Cal.4th 909, 916, 149 Cal.Rptr.3d 640, 288 P.3d 1259 ( Schmitz ); People v. Woods (1999) 21 Cal.4th 668, 674-675, 88 Cal.Rptr.2d 88, 981 P.2d 1019 [probation exception based on advance consent].) As we shall discuss, because of its similarity to parole, so is a search under a PRCS search condition.

When the trial court rules on a suppression motion, it " "(1) finds the historical facts, (2) selects the applicable rule of law, and (3) applies the latter to the former to determine whether the rule of law as applied to the established facts is or is not violated." " ( People v. Carter (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1114, 1140, 32 Cal.Rptr.3d 759, 117 P.3d 476.) On appeal, we independently review the second and third determinations, but we apply " "the deferential substantial-evidence standard" " to the court's determination of the historical facts. ( Ibid . ) Even if our reasoning differs from the trial court's, the trial court's ruling must be upheld if there is any basis in the record to sustain it. ( People v. Marquez (1992) 1 Cal.4th 553, 578, 3 Cal.Rptr.2d 710, 822 P.2d 418.)

B. Probation and parole searches

Suspicionless searches are lawful in California for both probationers and parolees, so long as they are not conducted arbitrarily,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
58 cases
  • Barajas v. City of Rohnert Park
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • 5 Febrero 2016
    ... ... A (Tatum Dep.) 55:25-56:1, Dkt. No. 32-1. He testified he cleared the room for any people and then went into a dining area and the kitchen, making his way towards the front where he could hear talking. Id. 58:2-9. He also testified he ... People v. Douglas , 240 Cal.App.4th 855, 857, 193 Cal.Rptr.3d 79 (2015), as modified on denial of reh'g (Oct. 19, 2015), review filed (Nov. 10, 2015) (quoting ... ...
  • Bauman v. Christopher B. (In re Estate of Christopher B.)
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 28 Septiembre 2015
    ... ... ( People v. Karriker (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 763, 775, 57 Cal.Rptr.3d 412 ; In re Polk (1999) 71 Cal.App.4th 1230, 1237, 84 Cal.Rptr.2d 389.) Christopher B ... ...
  • State v. Cornell
    • United States
    • Vermont Supreme Court
    • 22 Abril 2016
    ... ... Nevertheless, some courts have authorized suspicionless searches for probationers as well as parolees. See, e.g., People v. Douglas, 240 Cal.App.4th 855, 193 Cal.Rptr.3d 79, 85 (2015), as modified on denial of reh'g (Oct. 19, 2015), review denied (Jan. 20, 2016) ... ...
  • People v. Delrio
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 28 Febrero 2020
    ... ... Thus, the officer must have some knowledge not just of the fact someone is on probation, but of the existence of a search clause broad enough to justify the search at issue." ( People v. Douglas (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 855, 863, 193 Cal.Rptr.3d 79.) 5 Carpenter held that the governments access of historical cell phone records that chronicle a users past movements is a search under the Fourth Amendment. ( Carpenter , supra , 138 S.Ct. at p. 2211.) 6 We note In re Ricardo P. (2019) ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Chapter 5 - §3. Exceptions to warrant requirement
    • United States
    • Full Court Press California Guide to Criminal Evidence Chapter 5 Exclusion of Evidence on Constitutional Grounds
    • Invalid date
    ...more akin to parolees than probationers. See U.S. v. Cervantes (9th Cir.2017) 859 F.3d 1175, 1181; People v. Douglas (1st Dist.2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 855, 864-65. Similarly, because juvenile probationers are not subject to consent searches like other probationers are, searches of juvenile pr......
  • Table of Cases null
    • United States
    • Full Court Press California Guide to Criminal Evidence Table of Cases
    • Invalid date
    ...§9.2.1 People v. Dorsey, 43 Cal. App. 3d 953, 118 Cal. Rptr. 362 (5th Dist. 1974)—Ch. 3-B, §20.2.4(1) People v. Douglas, 240 Cal. App. 4th 855, 193 Cal. Rptr. 3d 79 (1st Dist. 2015)—Ch. 5-A, §3.3.8(1)(b) People v. Douglas, 66 Cal. App. 3d 998, 136 Cal. Rptr. 358 (2d Dist. 1977)—Ch. 5-B, §4.......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT