State v. Jones, Court of Appeals Case No. 21A-CR-2254

Docket NºCourt of Appeals Case No. 21A-CR-2254
Citation191 N.E.3d 878
Case DateJune 27, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

191 N.E.3d 878

STATE of Indiana, Appellant-Plaintiff/Cross-Appellee,
Tala M. JONES, Appellee-Defendant/Cross-Appellant.

Court of Appeals Case No. 21A-CR-2254

Court of Appeals of Indiana.

FILED June 27, 2022

Attorneys for Appellant: Theodore E. Rokita, Attorney General of Indiana, Courtney L. Staton, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana

Attorney for Appellee: Josiah J. Swinney, Indianapolis, Indiana

Riley, Judge.


1] Appellant-Plaintiff/Cross-Appellee, the State of Indiana (State), and Appellee-Defendant/Cross-Appellant, Tala Jones (Jones), appeal the trial court's rulings on Jones’ Motion to Suppress.

[2] We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for trial.


[3] The State presents this court with one issue, which we restate as: Whether our federal or state Constitution required suppression of physical evidence obtained through a Miranda violation.

[4] Jones raises one issue on cross-appeal, which we restate as: Whether her federal or state constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was violated when her vehicle was searched after she admitted marijuana was located there.


[5] Around 1:00 a.m. on March 10, 2019, Officer Paul Hutchinson (Officer Hutchinson) of the Richmond Police Department (RPD) observed Jones driving a vehicle alone on Main Street in Richmond, Indiana. Officer Hutchinson had stopped Jones several times before and knew that her driver's license was suspended. Officer Hutchinson initiated a traffic stop. Jones stopped her vehicle on Main Street between 22nd and 23rd Streets.

[6] Before making contact with Jones, Officer Hutchinson confirmed that Jones’ driver's license was indeed suspended. Officer Hutchinson approached Jones’ driver's

[191 N.E.3d 882

side window and asked Jones for her driver's license. Jones replied that she did not have her driver's license with her. At that point, Officer Hutchinson confronted Jones with the fact that she was operating her vehicle while her driver's license was suspended. Officer Hutchinson returned to his cruiser, and after once again confirming that Jones’ license was suspended, requested that a tow truck be sent to the location of the traffic stop. Although it is unclear from the record precisely when, another RPD officer arrived to assist Officer Hutchinson.

7] Officer Hutchinson returned to Jones’ vehicle, told her that her vehicle was going to be towed, and had her exit the vehicle. Officer Hutchinson asked Jones if there was anything in the vehicle, and Jones replied that there was marijuana in there. The officer assisting Officer Hutchinson quickly located suspected marijuana on top of the vehicle's center console. After the suspected marijuana was found, Officer Hutchinson handcuffed Jones. Officer Hutchinson asked Jones if there was anything else in the car. Jones replied that she had a gun on her person, and when asked where it was, she informed the officer that the firearm was in her bra strap. Officer Hutchinson removed a handgun from Jones’ bra strap. Officer Hutchinson then asked Jones if she had anything else on her person, and Jones replied that she had heroin and crack cocaine hidden on the other side of her bra. Officer Hutchinson removed suspected heroin and crack cocaine from Jones’ bra strap. Officer Hutchinson then provided Jones with the advisements outlined in Miranda v. Arizona , 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).

[8] On March 11, 2019, the State filed an Information, which it amended on August 27, 2021, charging Jones with Level 3 felony dealing in a narcotic drug, Level 3 felony dealing in cocaine, Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license, and Class A misdemeanor dealing in marijuana. On September 5, 2021, Jones filed a motion to suppress, arguing that neither Officer Hutchinson's decision to tow Jones’ vehicle nor the inventory search of Jones’ vehicle that netted the marijuana had been done pursuant to an established RPD policy or procedure. Jones also argued that the suspected marijuana, heroin, and crack cocaine, as well as the handgun, were the fruit of the poisonous tree of Jones’ statements made before she had received her Miranda advisements.

[9] On September 7, 2021, the trial court held a hearing on Jones’ motion at the conclusion of which the trial court partially granted Jones’ motion to suppress. The trial court ruled that Officer Hutchinson had validly decided to tow Jones’ vehicle pursuant to his community caretaking function; Jones was in custody after she admitted that there was marijuana in her vehicle but that she had then volunteered the information that she had a gun in her bra; the suspected drugs in her bra had been discovered as a direct result of a Miranda violation; and that the Indiana Constitution required suppression of the suspected drugs found in Jones’ bra. The result of these rulings is that the trial court suppressed Jones’ statement that she had drugs in her bra as well as the suspected heroin and cocaine, but it did not suppress her statement that there was marijuana in the car or the suspected marijuana found in the car.1 On September 22, 2021, the State filed a motion to reconsider,

[191 N.E.3d 883

which, after hearings on October 6 and 11, 2021, the trial court denied.

10] The State now appeals, and Jones cross-appeals. Additional facts will be provided as necessary.


I. Standard of Review

[11] The State appeals pursuant to Indiana Code section 35-38-4-2(a)(5) following the trial court's grant of Jones’ motion to suppress which effectively precluded any further prosecution of the Level 3 felony dealing heroin and cocaine charges. In reviewing a trial court's grant of a motion to suppress, we must determine whether the record contains substantial evidence of probative value supporting the trial court's decision. State v. Renzulli , 958 N.E.2d 1143, 1146 (Ind. 2011). We will not reweigh the evidence and will consider any conflicting evidence most favorably to the trial court's ruling. Id. Where, as here, the State appeals from a negative judgment, to obtain reversal it must show that the trial court's suppression ruling was contrary to law,

"meaning that the evidence was without conflict and all reasonable inferences led to a conclusion opposite that of the trial court." State v. Diego , 169 N.E.3d 113, 116 (Ind. 2021). While we evaluate the trial court's findings of fact deferentially, we review its conclusions of law de novo. State v. Brown , 70 N.E.3d 33, 335 (Ind. 2017).

II. Fifth Amendment

[12] The State contends that the Fifth Amendment does not require the suppression of the heroin and cocaine garnered from Jones’ unwarned statement that she had drugs in her bra. The trial court's suppression ruling was grounded chiefly on state constitutional grounds. We address the State's argument, as it was preserved for our review, Jones has raised arguments in response, and it will inform our subsequent analysis under the Indiana Constitution.

[13] The Self-Incrimination Clause of our federal constitution provides that "[n]o person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself[.]" U.S. CONST. amend. V. The State's Fifth Amendment argument relies chiefly on United States v. Patane , 542 U.S. 630, 124 S.Ct. 2620, 159 L.Ed.2d 667 (2004). In Patane , the United States Supreme Court considered whether law enforcement's failure to provide a criminal suspect with the warnings prescribed by Miranda requires suppression of the physical fruits of the suspect's unwarned but voluntary statements. Patane , 542 U.S. at 633-34, 124 S.Ct. 2620. While investigating Patane's alleged violation of a restraining order, officers became aware that Patane, a convicted felon, might be in illegal possession of a firearm. Id. at 634-35, 124 S.Ct. 2620. The officers went to Patane's house, and after speaking to Patane, placed him under arrest for violating the restraining order. Id. at 635, 124 S.Ct. 2620. Patane interrupted an officer who was attempting to provide him with his Miranda advisements, and the officer never completed the warnings. Id. Patane was then asked about the firearm, which he admitted was in his bedroom. Id. The firearm was seized, and Patane was indicted on a federal firearm possession charge. Id. Patane successfully sought suppression of the firearm evidence, a ruling which was upheld by the Circuit Court based on its reasoning that a failure to warn pursuant to Miranda was itself a violation of a suspect's Fifth Amendment self-incrimination rights which warranted application of the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine and the exclusionary rule to any physical evidence garnered from the Miranda violation. Id. at 635-36, 124 S.Ct. 2620.

[191 N.E.3d 884

[14] Upon the Government's appeal, the Supreme Court held that a Miranda violation does not require the suppression of any physical evidence flowing from that violation. Id. at 636-37, 124 S.Ct. 2620. Focusing on the use of the word "witness" in the Fifth Amendment's Self-Incrimination Clause, the Court held that the "core protection" provided by the Clause, which the prophylactic Miranda rule is designed to protect, is a prohibition on compelling a criminal defendant from testifying against himself at trial, a right which "cannot be violated by the introduction of nontestimonial evidence obtained as a result of voluntary statements." Id. at...

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