State v. Heath, No. 98-510.

Docket NºNo. 98-510.
Citation999 P.2d 324, 299 Mont. 230, 2000 MT 94
Case DateApril 13, 2000
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Montana

999 P.2d 324
2000 MT 94
299 Mont. 230

STATE of Montana, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Todd HEATH, Defendant and Appellant

No. 98-510.

Supreme Court of Montana.

Submitted on Briefs September 2, 1999.

Decided April 13, 2000.


999 P.2d 325
Mark Hilario, Attorney at Law, Billings, Montana, For Appellant

Hon. Joseph P. Mazurek, Attorney General; Jennifer Anders, Assistant Attorney General; Helena, Montana, Dennis Paxinos, Yellowstone County Attorney; Sheila R. Kolar, Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney, Billings, Montana, For Respondent.

Justice W. WILLIAM LEAPHART delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶ 1 Todd Heath (Heath) was charged in the Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County, with criminal possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Heath pled guilty to the charges and reserved his right to appeal the District Court's denial of his motion to suppress items that were seized from his person pursuant to a warrantless search. We reverse the court's ruling.

¶ 2 The sole issue on appeal is whether the District Court erred in denying Heath's motion to suppress items found on his person during a pat-down search for weapons.

¶ 3 The matter was decided by the District Court without an evidentiary hearing on the basis of the facts set forth in the parties' briefs. The undisputed facts recited by the District Court are as follows:

On October 25, 1997, at approximately 10:37 o'clock p.m., Gayle Raymond called the Billings Police Department to report a disturbance at her residence located on the 1100 block of North 25th Street. Officer Cardillo was dispatched to the scene, as well as Officers Longin and Paharik. Raymond had reported that the Defendant, Todd Heath, had been harassing her and that he had threatened her earlier with a gun. She also reported the suspect or suspects were knocking on her door, and that the suspect or suspects' vehicle was parked in the alley behind the residence.
Officers Longin and Paharik arrived first. They were advised that the suspect's vehicle was a 1964 white Chevrolet. Officer Longin heard "a commotion" in the direction of the reported vehicle, and then observed it leave the area through the alley. He ran to his patrol car and radioed to Officer Cardillo. Officer Cardillo initiated a stop of the vehicle.
Officer Longin arrived just as Officer Cardillo was making the stop. He observed one of the passengers, later identified as Mario Diaz, repeatedly crouching down as if placing or retrieving an item from under the seat and then sitting back upright in the seat. Officer Cardillo also observed this action.
Officer Longin approached the vehicle on the driver's side and Officer Cardillo approached it on the passenger side. Other officers arrived on the scene at this time, including Officer Paharik. Officer Paharik had talked with the complainant, Raymond.
As he approached the vehicle, Officer Cardillo noticed that passenger Diaz kept leaning forward and his hands would go out of sight as he reached under the seat. He states that he felt threatened by the vehicle occupants' actions. He asked the driver and the passenger to keep their hands in sight.
Officer Longin asked the Defendant for his Driver's License and Registration, which he could not produce. Officer Paharik then informed Officers Longin and Cardillo that the Defendant may have a gun because he had allegedly threatened Raymond with a gun a few days prior. The Officers had the Defendant and Diaz exit the vehicle. Officer Cardillo noticed that Diaz was extremely jumpy. He asked Diaz what he had put under the seat, and Diaz replied that he had not put anything under the seat.
The Officers then conducted a pat down search for officer safety reasons based on the information that the Defendant may be armed. Officer Longin recovered a small leather bag from the middle inside pocket of the Defendant's coat, and a small glass pipe from his left inside coat pocket. Inside
999 P.2d 326
the leather bag was several blue valium tablets. Officer Longin then placed the Defendant [in] handcuffs. Officer Cardillo arrested Diaz upon discovering he had a Warrant out for his arrest.
A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed two black bags which were searched for weapons. The bags contained a scale, a piece of butcher paper, 3 bindles, a plastic bag containing valium, zigzag rolling papers, a bag containing marijuana, and a bag containing methamphetamine. Also, a knife was found in the front passenger area.

Standard of Review

¶ 4 The standard of review of a district court's denial of a motion to suppress is whether the court's interpretation and application of the law are correct. State v. Graham (1995), 271 Mont. 510, 512, 898 P.2d 1206, 1207-08 (citation omitted).

Discussion

¶ 5 Did the District Court err in denying Heath's motion to suppress items found on his person during a pat-down search for weapons?

¶ 6 A search without a warrant is per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article II, Section 11 of the Constitution of the State of Montana. Both federal and state law recognize certain judicial exceptions to the warrant requirement. See ...

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7 practice notes
  • State v. Laster, DA 19-0645
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • October 19, 2021
    ...as a potential knife or derringer), overruled on other grounds by Loh , 275 Mont. at 471-73, 914 P.2d at 599-600. Compare State v. Heath , 2000 MT 94, ¶ 17, 299 Mont. 230, 999 P.2d 324 ( Terry does not authorize "random[ ] ‘recover[y]’ [of] items from the suspect's clothing" for examination......
  • State v. Laster, DA 19-0645
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • October 19, 2021
    ...as a potential knife or derringer), overruled on other grounds by Loh, 275 Mont, at 471-73, 914 P.2d at 599-600. Compare State v. Heath, 2000 MT 94, ¶ 17, 299 Mont. 230, 999 P.2d 324 (Terry does not authorize "random[] 'recover[y]' [of] items from the suspect's clothing" for examination abs......
  • State v. Mefford, DA 20-0330
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • September 27, 2022
    ...then shifted to the prosecution to "prove that the search c[ame] within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement." State v. Heath, 2000 MT 94, ¶ 18, 299 Mont. 230, 999 P.2d 324. It was not Mefford's burden to preemptively refute every possible warrant exception the State might rais......
  • Underwood v. State, No. 0792, Sept. Term, 2013.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 7, 2014
    ...officer's ‘specific knowledge of defendant's previous association with weapons and with persons carrying weapons'); State v. Heath, 299 Mont. 230, 999 P.2d 324 (2000) (defendant caused commotion outside home of woman he had been harassing and who he had earlier threatened with a weapon); St......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • State v. Laster, DA 19-0645
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • October 19, 2021
    ...as a potential knife or derringer), overruled on other grounds by Loh , 275 Mont. at 471-73, 914 P.2d at 599-600. Compare State v. Heath , 2000 MT 94, ¶ 17, 299 Mont. 230, 999 P.2d 324 ( Terry does not authorize "random[ ] ‘recover[y]’ [of] items from the suspect's clothing" for examination......
  • State v. Laster, DA 19-0645
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • October 19, 2021
    ...as a potential knife or derringer), overruled on other grounds by Loh, 275 Mont, at 471-73, 914 P.2d at 599-600. Compare State v. Heath, 2000 MT 94, ¶ 17, 299 Mont. 230, 999 P.2d 324 (Terry does not authorize "random[] 'recover[y]' [of] items from the suspect's clothing" for examination abs......
  • State v. Mefford, DA 20-0330
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • September 27, 2022
    ...then shifted to the prosecution to "prove that the search c[ame] within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement." State v. Heath, 2000 MT 94, ¶ 18, 299 Mont. 230, 999 P.2d 324. It was not Mefford's burden to preemptively refute every possible warrant exception the State might rais......
  • Underwood v. State, No. 0792, Sept. Term, 2013.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 7, 2014
    ...officer's ‘specific knowledge of defendant's previous association with weapons and with persons carrying weapons'); State v. Heath, 299 Mont. 230, 999 P.2d 324 (2000) (defendant caused commotion outside home of woman he had been harassing and who he had earlier threatened with a weapon); St......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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