State v. Randy J., 29,791.

Decision Date16 September 2011
Docket NumberNo. 29,791.,29,791.
PartiesSTATE of New Mexico, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. RANDY J., Child–Appellee.
CourtCourt of Appeals of New Mexico

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Gary K. King, Attorney General, Santa Fe, NM, M. Victoria Wilson, Assistant Attorney General, Albuquerque, NM, for Appellant.

Jacqueline L. Cooper, Acting Chief Public Defender, J.K. Theodosia Johnson, Santa Fe, NM, for Appellee.

OPINION

GARCIA, Judge.

{1} Whenever children are subject to an investigatory detention, they must be advised of their right to remain silent and advised that anything they say can be used against them. If a child is not advised of his or her rights, “any statement or confession” by the child is inadmissible in court pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section 32A–2–14(C), (D) (2003) (amended 2009). It is undisputed that Randy J. (Child) was subject to an investigatory detention for driving under the influence (DUI) and that the investigating officer failed to advise Child of his constitutional rights as required by Section 32A–2–14(C). However, the parties disagree regarding whether Child's responses during field sobriety tests, the results of a blood test taken following Child's arrest, and Child's implied consent to a blood test constitute statements that must be suppressed under Section 32A–2–14(D). The district court agreed with Child and suppressed the evidence. We hold that Child's responses during the field sobriety tests, results of the blood test, and Child's implied consent to the blood test are not statements that are subject to suppression under Section 32A–2–14(D). As a result, we reverse the district court's order of suppression and remand to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

{2} On March 25, 2009, Officer Joseph Schake observed a vehicle fail to stop at a stop sign. Officer Schake stopped the vehicle and made contact with the driver, Child, who identified himself. Officer Schake detected the strong odor of what he knew based on his training and experience to be “burnt marijuana” coming from the vehicle. At that point, Officer Schake asked Child to exit the vehicle and accompany him to the back of the vehicle. While Officer Schake and Child were near the back of the vehicle, Officer Schake smelled “burnt marijuana” on Child's person. Officer Schake then conducted an investigation for a possible DUI.

{3} Officer Schake had Child perform three field sobriety tests: a horizontal gaze nystagmus tests (HGN), a walk-and-turn test, and a one-leg-stand test. During the HGN test, Officer Schake observed that Child had bloodshot, watery eyes and “slowed” facial expressions that were consistent with a subject who was on a depressant. During the walk-and-turn test, Child used very methodical and slow steps, swayed from side-to-side, stopped during the test, and held his arms up more than six inches for balance. During the one-leg-stand test, Child “hopped,” held his arms up more than six inches for balance, swayed from side to side, did not keep his toe pointed, did not stare at his toe the entire time as instructed, and skipped a number while counting. Based on these observations, Officer Schake concluded that Child was “under the influence” and arrested him.

{4} Officer Schake transported Child to San Juan Regional Medical Center and read him the Implied Consent Act, NMSA 1978, § 66–8–107(A) (1993), after which Child's blood was drawn for testing. Officer Schake testified that he did not recall when he found out Child's age. Officer Schake further testified that he did not recall giving Child Miranda warnings or advising him of his constitutional rights as required by Section 32A–2–14(C) at any time.

{5} Child was sixteen years old at the time of the incident. On March 27, 2009, the State filed a petition alleging that Child was a delinquent child based upon the following: (1) driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or in the alternative, driving while under the influence of any drug to a degree that rendered Child incapable of safely driving a vehicle, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 66–8–102(A), (B) (2008) (amended 2010); (2) driving without a valid license, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 66–5–2(A)(1) (2007); (3) failure to stop and yield the right-of-way, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 66–7–330(B) (1978); (4) possession of drug paraphernalia, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30–31–25.1(A) (2001); and (5) possession of marijuana (one ounce or less), contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30–31–23(B)(1) (2005) (amended 2011).

{6} Child filed a motion to suppress any statements or admissions he made to Officer Schake during the traffic stop, as well as any evidence obtained pursuant to those statements. Child relied on State v. Javier M., 2001–NMSC–030, 131 N.M. 1, 33 P.3d 1, to argue that any statement or confession must be suppressed because Child was not advised of his constitutional rights as required by Section 32A–2–14(C). Specifically, Child indicated that after Officer Schake ordered him out of the vehicle, he admitted to smoking marijuana about an hour prior to the stop. Child further contended that any physical evidence seized by Officer Schake must be suppressed as the fruits of the unlawful questioning. Finally, Child relied on Section 32A–2–14 and Article II, Sections 14, 15, and 18 of the New Mexico Constitution to argue that children in New Mexico are provided broader protections than adults during police questioning. In response, the State conceded that Officer Schake failed to advise Child of his right to remain silent as required by Section 32A–2–14(C) and that any statement or confession should be suppressed. However, the State argued that Section 32A–2–14(D) did not require suppression of the physical evidence.

{7} At the hearing on the motion to suppress, Child argued that the fruits of the Section 32A–2–14(C) violation should be suppressed, including the field sobriety tests, the blood draw, and any consent by Child to conduct those tests. In response, the State relied on Javier M. to argue that Section 32A–2–14(D) only required suppression of any incriminating statements but not suppression of the physical evidence. The district court ultimately determined that Child was never advised of his constitutional rights pursuant to Section 32A–2–14(C) and relied on Javier M. to conclude that the remedy for the violation was suppression of the results of the field sobriety tests and the results of the blood test. The court reasoned that Child's responses during the tests were statements, and the results should be suppressed. The State disagreed that Child's responses during the field sobriety tests and blood tests were statements, and the court allowed the State to prepare a supplemental brief on that issue. The State filed a supplemental brief in support of its argument that the results of the field sobriety tests and blood tests are not statements and are not required to be suppressed under Section 32A–2–14(D) as interpreted by Javier M. At a subsequent hearing, the court ruled that Section 32A–2–14(D) required suppression of all of Child's statements, including the results of the field sobriety tests and the blood tests.

{8} The district court ordered “that no statement or confession, including Child's admission to smoking marijuana, consent to conduct field sobriety testing and drug analysis testing, and any results of field sobriety testing and drug analysis testing, may be introduced at trial or hearing.” The court further dismissed the allegation in Count I of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs for lack of evidence. The State appealed.

DISCUSSION

{9} On appeal, the State argues that Child's performance on the field sobriety tests, the results of the blood test, and any consent by Child to submit to the blood test do not constitute statements or confessions under Section 32A–2–14(D). As a result, the State contends that Section 32A–2–14(D) does not require suppression of that evidence as a remedy for the failure to advise Child of his constitutional rights as required by Section 32A–2–14(C).

Standard of Review

{10} In reviewing an order of suppression, we defer to the district court's findings of fact that are supported by substantial evidence, and we review the district court's application of the law to the facts de novo. State v. Gerald B., 2006–NMCA–022, ¶ 13, 139 N.M. 113, 129 P.3d 149. The relevant facts are undisputed. On appeal, we must determine as a matter of law whether the district court erred in determining that Child's responses during the field sobriety tests, the results of his blood test, and his implied consent to the blood test are statements that must be suppressed pursuant to Section 32A–2–14(D). Our review also involves interpretation of Section 32A–2–14(D) and the Implied Consent Act. As a result, we review the district court's order of suppression de novo. See State v. Jade G., 2007–NMSC–010, ¶ 15, 141 N.M. 284, 154 P.3d 659 (stating that appellate courts review issues involving statutory interpretation de novo); see also Gerald B., 2006–NMCA–022, ¶¶ 13, 19, 139 N.M. 113, 129 P.3d 149 (applying a de novo standard in reviewing the district court's application of the law to the facts to determine whether a violation of Section 32A–2–14 occurred).

Section 32A–2–14(D) Provides That the Remedy for a Violation of Section 32A–2–14(C) Is Suppression of a Child's Statements or Confessions

{11} “Our primary goal when interpreting statutory language is to give effect to the intent of the [L]egislature.” State v. Torres, 2006–NMCA–106, ¶ 8, 140 N.M. 230, 141 P.3d 1284. “The text of a statute ... is the primary, essential source of its meaning.” NMSA 1978, § 12–2A–19 (1997). “Under the plain meaning rule[,] statutes are to be given effect as written without room for construction unless the language is doubtful, ambiguous, or an...

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