State v. Wantland, No. 2011AP3007–CR.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtGUNDRUM
Citation2013 WI App 36,346 Wis.2d 680,828 N.W.2d 885
PartiesSTATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff–Respondent, v. Derik J. WANTLAND, Defendant–Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 2011AP3007–CR.
Decision Date20 February 2013

346 Wis.2d 680
828 N.W.2d 885
2013 WI App 36

STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff–Respondent,
v.
Derik J. WANTLAND, Defendant–Appellant.

No. 2011AP3007–CR.

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin.

Submitted on Briefs Sept. 25, 2012.
Opinion Filed Feb. 20, 2013.


[828 N.W.2d 886]


On behalf of the defendant-appellant, the cause was submitted on the briefs of Susan E. Alesia, assistant state public defender of Madison.

On behalf of the plaintiff-respondent, the cause was submitted on the brief of Sarah K. Larson, assistant attorney general, and J.B. Van Hollen, attorney general.


Before BROWN, C.J., NEUBAUER, P.J., and GUNDRUM, J.

GUNDRUM, J.

[346 Wis.2d 682]¶ 1 Derik J. Wantland appeals from his judgment of conviction and the circuit court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a sheriff deputy's warrantless search of a briefcase located in a vehicle during a traffic stop. Wantland contends the search was unreasonable, and therefore unlawful under the Fourth Amendment, because he limited the scope of the driver's prior consent to search the vehicle by asking “Got a warrant for that?” when the deputy got to the briefcase during the search. We conclude that the circuit court correctly found that Wantland did not limit the driver's consent to search [346 Wis.2d 683]because a reasonable person considering the totality of the circumstances would not have interpreted the exchange between Wantland and the deputy as Wantland clearly and unequivocally identifying himself as the owner of the briefcase and objecting to the search of it. We further reject Wantland's alternative position that if the deputy was uncertain whether Wantland owned the briefcase and was objecting to the search of it, it was unreasonable for him to search it without seeking clarification. The deputy's search of the briefcase pursuant to the driver's consent was reasonable. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

¶ 2 The deputy was the only witness to testify on the motion to suppress. In deciding the motion, the circuit court considered that testimony as well as relevant portions of a video from the deputy's squad car. The following facts are undisputed on appeal.

¶ 3 The deputy performed a traffic stop on a vehicle in which Wantland was a passenger. The driver, Wantland's brother, consented to a search of the vehicle and placed no relevant limitation on the scope of that consent. The driver and Wantland exited the vehicle and remained close to the rear of it for all pertinent aspects of

[828 N.W.2d 887]

the deputy's search. After searching the front and center areas of the vehicle, the deputy opened the hatchback and continued the search. When he got to a briefcase, he asked the men what was inside it. Wantland responded with “a laptop” and “Got a warrant for that?” The deputy indicated that he (the deputy) could open the briefcase. Wantland laughed and remarked that the briefcase also contained Visine and antacid pills. The deputy opened the briefcase and found Visine, one empty antacid pill bottle, and one antacid pill bottle with two pills in it which appeared inconsistent with [346 Wis.2d 684]the type of pills that belonged in the bottle. The pills were later identified as morphine, and the deputy found documents in the briefcase identifying Wantland as the owner. Wantland was arrested and additional morphine pills were found on him at the jail.

¶ 4 Wantland was charged with possession of a narcotic drug, and he moved to suppress the evidence. The circuit court denied the motion after finding that the driver properly authorized the search and that Wantland's warrant question did not constitute a limitation on that consent. Wantland entered a plea and now appeals. Additional facts are included below as necessary.

DISCUSSION

¶ 5 The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution does not prohibit all state-initiated searches, but only those that are unreasonable. Florida v. Jimeno, 500 U.S. 248, 250, 111 S.Ct. 1801, 114 L.Ed.2d 297 (1991). Warrantless searches are per se unreasonable. State v. Matejka, 2001 WI 5, ¶ 17, 241 Wis.2d 52, 621 N.W.2d 891. A warrantless search conducted pursuant to voluntary consent, however, is one of the well-established exceptions to the warrant requirement. State v. Wallace, 2002 WI App 61, ¶ 17, 251 Wis.2d 625, 642 N.W.2d 549,overruled on other grounds by State v. Popenhagen, 2008 WI 55, 309 Wis.2d 601, 749 N.W.2d 611. Whether a law enforcement officer was given consent to search and whether subsequent words or actions limited the scope of that consent are questions of fact we review for clear error. See Wallace, 251 Wis.2d 625, ¶¶ 16, 35–37, 642 N.W.2d 549;State v. Stankus, 220 Wis.2d 232, 244, 582 N.W.2d 468 (1998). However, the ultimate question of whether a search was [346 Wis.2d 685]reasonable, and therefore lawful under the Fourth Amendment, is a question of law we review de novo. Wallace, 251 Wis.2d 625, ¶ 8, 642 N.W.2d 549.

¶ 6 On appeal, Wantland does not dispute the circuit court's determination that the driver properly authorized the deputy's search of the vehicle. Rather, he argues that the warrantless search of his briefcase violated the prohibition against unreasonable searches because he limited the driver's consent to search the vehicle as it related to the briefcase by asking “Got a warrant for that?”...

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3 practice notes
  • State v. Wantland, No. 2011AP3007–CR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 11, 2014
    ...general.ANNETTE KINGSLAND ZIEGLER, J. ¶ 1 This is a review of a decision of the court of appeals, State v. Wantland, 2013 WI App 36, 346 Wis.2d 680, 828 N.W.2d 885, that affirmed the judgment and order of the Sheboygan County Circuit Court,1 which convicted Derik J. Wantland (“Wantland”) of......
  • Habush v. Cannon, No. 2011AP1769.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • February 21, 2013
    ...it alleges that Habush and Rottier engaged in similar advertising practices and, therefore, the doctrine of unclean hands forecloses [828 N.W.2d 885]their recovery. Finally, Cannon & Dunphy argues that, even if it did violate Habush's and Rottier's right of privacy, Cannon & Dunphy'......
  • Wis. Cent. LTD v. Gottlieb, No. 2012AP1019.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • April 24, 2013
    ...150]and therefore lawful under the Fourth Amendment, is a question of law we review de novo.State v. Wantland, 2013 WI App 36, ¶ 95, 346 Wis.2d 680, 828 N.W.2d 885. In view of facts established in the OCR proceedings in Petition No. 9164–RX–611, we are convinced that WCL consented to the ov......
3 cases
  • State v. Wantland, No. 2011AP3007–CR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 11, 2014
    ...general.ANNETTE KINGSLAND ZIEGLER, J. ¶ 1 This is a review of a decision of the court of appeals, State v. Wantland, 2013 WI App 36, 346 Wis.2d 680, 828 N.W.2d 885, that affirmed the judgment and order of the Sheboygan County Circuit Court,1 which convicted Derik J. Wantland (“Wantland”) of......
  • Habush v. Cannon, No. 2011AP1769.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • February 21, 2013
    ...it alleges that Habush and Rottier engaged in similar advertising practices and, therefore, the doctrine of unclean hands forecloses [828 N.W.2d 885]their recovery. Finally, Cannon & Dunphy argues that, even if it did violate Habush's and Rottier's right of privacy, Cannon & Dunphy'......
  • Wis. Cent. LTD v. Gottlieb, No. 2012AP1019.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • April 24, 2013
    ...150]and therefore lawful under the Fourth Amendment, is a question of law we review de novo.State v. Wantland, 2013 WI App 36, ¶ 95, 346 Wis.2d 680, 828 N.W.2d 885. In view of facts established in the OCR proceedings in Petition No. 9164–RX–611, we are convinced that WCL consented to the ov......

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