State v. Haibeck, 20040060.

Decision Date09 August 2004
Docket NumberNo. 20040060.,20040060.
Citation2004 ND 163,685 N.W.2d 512
PartiesSTATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant v. Krystal HAIBECK, Defendant and Appellee.
CourtNorth Dakota Supreme Court

Brandi Sasse Russell, Assistant State's Attorney, Bismarck, N.D., for plaintiff and appellant.

Michael R. Hoffman, Bismarck, N.D., for defendant and appellee.

NEUMANN, Justice.

[¶ 1] The State appeals from the trial court's order granting Krystal Haibeck's motion to suppress evidence related to four counts against her, and the trial court's subsequent order dismissing those four counts. We reverse with regard to the suppression of physical evidence and the order of dismissal, and we remand for determination of which statements, if any, should remain suppressed.


[¶ 2] On July 5, 2003, eighteen-year-old Krystal Haibeck was a passenger in a vehicle driven by nineteen-year-old Angelique Waliser. Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Arman stopped the vehicle for exceeding the speed limit and detected the odor of alcohol after he approached the vehicle. Once he approached the vehicle, Officer Arman also recognized Haibeck from an arrest for an underage alcohol violation several days earlier. Officer Arman questioned Waliser in his patrol car, where he confirmed Haibeck's identity. Officer Arman also conducted a field sobriety breath test of Waliser, which showed she had consumed alcohol. At that point, Officer Arman cited Waliser for minor in consumption or possession of an alcoholic beverage and speeding. He also informed Waliser that he would be searching her vehicle incident to the arrest.

[¶ 3] Officer Arman then approached Haibeck and removed her from the vehicle. He placed Haibeck in the patrol car for questioning after returning Waliser to her vehicle. Officer Arman later testified he continued to detect the odor of alcohol while speaking with Haibeck. Upon questioning, Haibeck admitted to drinking. During this time, another officer searched Waliser's vehicle, but failed to discover any contraband.

[¶ 4] While questioning Haibeck, after the officer searched Waliser's vehicle, Officer Arman noticed a necklace around Haibeck's neck that appeared to be a marijuana pipe; he questioned her about it. Haibeck confirmed it was used for marijuana. Officer Arman detected the odor of marijuana emanating from the necklace and also noticed that it contained fresh residue.

[¶ 5] After speaking with Haibeck further, Officer Arman conducted a second search of the vehicle and found a razor and a plastic vial with methamphetamine residue inside Haibeck's purse. When confronted with the contraband, Haibeck confirmed the residue was, in fact, methamphetamine. Officer Arman also found marijuana among Haibeck's belongings. Haibeck and Waliser were then driven into Bismarck, where Waliser was released. While driving, Officer Arman mentioned to Haibeck that he "should Mirandize her" and then asked, "do you know your rights, Krystal?" Haibeck stated, "yes." Haibeck was taken to Burleigh County Detention Center, where Officer Arman arranged for her to be released after booking. Haibeck was charged with minor in consumption or possession of an alcoholic beverage, possession of marijuana paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of methamphetamine paraphernalia.

[¶ 6] Haibeck moved to suppress the physical evidence of the contraband and her statements, contending Officer Arman had failed to issue a Miranda warning before questioning her and searching the vehicle. The trial court granted the suppression motion and dismissed all four drug-related counts after holding Haibeck had not been properly advised of her Miranda rights during a police investigation.

[¶ 7] The State appeals, contending the trial court erred when it granted the motion to suppress. The State argues the search of Waliser's vehicle was reasonable under either the automobile exception to the warrant requirement or as a search incident to arrest. In addition, the State appeals from suppression of Haibeck's statements.


[¶ 8] We have previously set forth our standard when reviewing a trial court's motion to suppress:

When reviewing a district court's ruling on a motion to suppress, we defer to the district court's findings of fact and resolve conflicts in testimony in favor of affirmance. We affirm the district court's decision unless we conclude there is insufficient competent evidence to support the decision, or unless the decision goes against the manifest weight of the evidence.

State v. Gregg, 2000 ND 154, ¶ 19, 615 N.W.2d 515 (citations omitted). "The question of whether the facts found by the trial court meet a legal standard ... is a question of law which is fully reviewable." State v. Steinmetz, 552 N.W.2d 358, 360 (N.D.1996). In the context of a warrantless search of an automobile, "determinations of reasonable suspicion and probable cause should be reviewed de novo on appeal." Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 698, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 (1996).

[¶ 9] All searches and seizures must be reasonable, under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 8 of the North Dakota Constitution. State v. Utvick, 2004 ND 36, ¶ 15, 675 N.W.2d 387. Under the warrant requirement, generally, "[w]hen an individual reasonably expects privacy in an area, the government must obtain a search warrant." State v. Dunn, 2002 ND 189, ¶ 4, 653 N.W.2d 688. "A warrant cannot issue except upon probable cause. Absent an exception to the warrant requirement, the exclusionary rule mandates suppression of evidence obtained in violation of the protection against searches conducted without a warrant because they are per se unreasonable." (Citations omitted.) State v. Winkler, 552 N.W.2d 347, 351-52 (N.D.1996). In the context of a warrantless search, "the lawfulness of the search depends upon whether it falls within one of the well-recognized and well-delineated exceptions to the warrant requirement." State v. Lange, 255 N.W.2d 59, 62 (N.D.1977); see also California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565, 580, 111 S.Ct. 1982, 114 L.Ed.2d 619 (1991) (holding, "[s]earches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment — subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions"). If no such exception applies, "evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches must be suppressed as inadmissible under the exclusionary rule." Dunn, 2002 ND 189, ¶4,653 N.W.2d 688.


[¶ 10] One such exception is known as the "automobile exception." Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 153, 155, 45 S.Ct. 280, 69 L.Ed. 543 (1925). Under the automobile exception, "`contraband goods concealed and illegally transported in an automobile or other vehicle may be searched for without a warrant' where probable cause exists." Wyoming v. Houghton, 526 U.S. 295, 300, 119 S.Ct. 1297, 143 L.Ed.2d 408 (1999) (quoting, Carroll v. United States, at 153, 45 S.Ct. 280). Specifically, under Carroll,"[t]he measure of legality of such a seizure is ... that the seizing officer shall have ... probable cause for believing that the automobile... has contraband...." Carroll, 267 U.S. at 155-56, 45 S.Ct. 280. See also State v. Gregg, 2000 ND 154, ¶ 33, 615 N.W.2d 515 (holding, "if the search of an automobile without warrant is made upon probable cause, based upon a reasonable belief arising out of the circumstances known to the officer — that the automobile contains articles which are subject to seizure — the search is valid"); State v. Meadows, 260 N.W.2d 328, 330 (N.D.1977) (holding, "[t]he search of an automobile, with or without a warrant, must be made upon probable cause, based upon a reasonable belief arising out of the circumstances known to the officer, that the automobile contains articles which are subject to seizure").

[¶ 11] The automobile exception allows officers to search the belongings of passengers and driver alike:

If probable cause justifies the search of a lawfully stopped vehicle, it justifies the search of every part of the vehicle and its contents that may conceal the object of the search. [This applies] broadly to all containers within a car, without qualification as to ownership.

Wyoming v. Houghton, 526 U.S. 295, 301, 119 S.Ct. 1297, 143 L.Ed.2d 408 (1999) (emphasis omitted).

[¶ 12] When searching a vehicle, the warrant requirement is excused "primarily because vehicles are inherently `mobile' and can be `quickly moved' out of the jurisdiction." State v. Garrett, 1998 ND 173, ¶ 19, 584 N.W.2d 502 (quoting Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42, 50-51, 90 S.Ct. 1975, 26 L.Ed.2d 419 (1970)). We also stated in Garrett, "searches of vehicles may be made under circumstances where searches of buildings would not be allowed because of the ambulatory character of automobiles, the lesser expectation of privacy as to automobiles, and the fact that automobiles are often within the plain view of officers." Id. at ¶ 14.

[¶ 13] Generally, before an officer may stop a moving vehicle for investigative purposes, the officer must have "an articulable and reasonable suspicion that a law has been or is being violated." City of Fargo v. Sivertson, 1997 ND 204, ¶ 9, 571 N.W.2d 137. However, "traffic violations, even if considered common or minor, constitute prohibited conduct and, therefore, provide officers with requisite suspicion for conducting investigatory stops." State v. Fields, 2003 ND 81, ¶ 7, 662 N.W.2d 242. Indeed, "[a]s a general matter, the decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred." Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 810, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 135 L.Ed.2d 89 (1996).

[¶ 14] In this case, Officer Arman observed Waliser's vehicle traveling 52 miles per hour in a 40-mile-per-hour-construction zone. The violation of the...

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