State v. Warren

Decision Date05 March 2021
Docket NumberNo. 19-0267,19-0267
Citation955 N.W.2d 848
Parties STATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Jasmaine R. WARREN, Appellant.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Gina Messamer (argued) of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gribble Gentry Brown & Bergmann L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Israel Kodiaga (argued), Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Kailyn M. Heston, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Christensen, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which McDonald, Oxley, and McDermott, JJ., joined. Mansfield, J., filed a special concurrence. Appel, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Waterman, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

CHRISTENSEN, Chief Justice.

Is it unconstitutional for an officer to enforce a parking violation after he observes a driver illegally park her vehicle, leaving the vehicle sticking out of the driveway and into the road? If the officer smells marijuana and observes signs of the driver's intoxication when he stops the driver to enforce the parking violation, is it unconstitutional for the officer to inquire about the driver's intoxication when the officer could have enforced the parking violation by placing a citation on the driver's window instead of stopping her? If the officer asks the defendant for her license while he's enforcing the parking violation and discovers the driver's license is revoked, is it unconstitutional to extend his stop to enforce that violation? Is there any legally meaningful distinction between a parking and a moving violation for Terry stop purposes? These are the questions we must answer in this case.

Following a seizure and arrest made under these circumstances, the State charged the defendant with operating while intoxicated (OWI) and driving while license revoked. The defendant chose a bench trial, and the district court convicted the defendant on both charges. On appeal, the court of appeals reversed her OWI conviction due to insufficient evidence and remanded it for a new trial because the district court did not specify which OWI theory its verdict rested upon when the evidence did not support each theory the State presented. However, it affirmed her driving while revoked conviction, rejecting the defendant's claim that trial counsel was ineffective for not seeking suppression of the evidence on the basis that she was subjected to an unconstitutional seizure. Specifically, the defendant argued parking violations should be treated differently from moving violations such that parking violations do not supply law enforcement with reasonable suspicion or probable cause for a seizure. She also argued the officer impermissibly prolonged the seizure.

On further review, we vacate the part of the court of appeals decision reversing Warren's OWI conviction because substantial evidence supports the district court's verdict finding Warren guilty of OWI. However, we affirm the court of appeals decision that Warren's counsel was not ineffective in declining to seek suppression of the evidence on the basis that she was subjected to an unconstitutional seizure, as the officer had probable cause to seize the defendant based on his observation of her traffic violation. Thus, we answer the aforementioned questions as follows:

1. No.
2. No.
3. No.
4. Not under the circumstances before us.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Around 2:30 a.m. on May 4, 2018, Jasmaine Warren was operating a motor vehicle in Des Moines. Officer Jeremy Engle of the Des Moines Police Department was on routine traffic patrol when he observed Warren's vehicle turn southbound and begin to rapidly accelerate. Officer Engle followed the vehicle onto Corning Avenue, where Warren pulled into a driveway and parked illegally in a no-parking zone with the back end of her vehicle sticking out into the street. Warren had attempted to park her vehicle behind another vehicle in the driveway, but most of her vehicle could not fit in the driveway and part of it stuck out into the roadway.1 Before Officer Engle could make contact with Warren, another police officer pulled in behind her and activated his overhead lights. Officer Engle followed suit to advise Warren she could not park her vehicle that way.

Officer Engle noted Warren "seemed like she wanted to ... get inside quickly." He advised her she could not park the vehicle where she did and asked if she had her license, registration, and proof of insurance. As Warren opened her car door to retrieve the requested documents, Officer Engle "smelled a strong odor of marijuana emitting from her vehicle." He also noticed Warren had bloodshot, watery eyes and droopy eyelids, and he could smell marijuana and "a faint odor of alcohol" on Warren.

Warren provided Officer Engle with her identification, which declared it was "identification only," and she told him her license was suspended. She did not provide her registration and insurance. After receiving Warren's identification, Officer Engle asked Warren why the vehicle smelled like marijuana.2 Warren responded, "Yeah, we smoke, that's all. Least I'm honest, shit," and laughed.

Officer Engle again asked Warren if she had her registration and insurance, and Warren opened the driver's side door of the vehicle to look for those documents. As she opened the door, she exclaimed, "Ooh, it is, it does smell like weed," to which Officer Engle responded, "Yeah, it does." Warren said, "Sorry!" and laughed. Warren eventually provided Officer Engle with a document she claimed was her registration that had an old address on it and told Officer Engle that she did not have her insurance with her.

Officer Engle went to his vehicle with Warren to verify her driving status through the National Crime Information Center on his dash computer. In the process, he explained to Warren that she could not "be driving and smoking weed." Warren clarified that she was not smoking and driving at the same time, as she had only smoked while at work and had just left work before driving. Officer Engle then discovered and informed Warren that her license was revoked, not suspended as she had claimed.

Warren became upset and defensive, asking Officer Engle if she had to go to jail. He questioned her about how long before the stop she had smoked marijuana or consumed alcohol. Warren said it was "hours ago, like hours, three, four" hours before driving that she had consumed alcohol. She provided varying time frames that included an hour and a half, an hour, and forty-five minutes prior to the stop regarding her marijuana use. Officer Engle asked Warren if she would participate in field sobriety testing, but Warren responded that she did not want to take any tests and instructed Officer Engle to take her to jail. He subsequently asked Warren if she would take a preliminary breath test, which Warren also refused.

Warren initially laughed when Officer Engle explained that she could not smoke marijuana and then operate a motor vehicle, but she quickly became more upset when Officer Engle informed her he was arresting her for operating while intoxicated (OWI) after she refused the field sobriety and preliminary breath testing. Officer Engle transported Warren to the police station, where he read her the appropriate implied consent notice and requested a urine specimen to check for drugs or alcohol. Warren refused to provide a urine specimen, explaining she had Methadone in her system and "smoked more weed than [she drank] anything."

The State formally charged Warren by trial information with second-offense OWI, an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.2 (2018), and driving while license was revoked, a serious misdemeanor, in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.21.3 The trial information did not specify which subsection of section 321J.2 Warren allegedly violated. Instead, the State presented two theories at trial—Warren operated a motor vehicle while either "under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug, or a combination of such substances," or "while any amount of controlled substances is present in the person as measured in the person's blood or urine."

The case proceeded to a bench trial, and the district court found Warren guilty as charged on November 14, 2018. The district court's written findings regarding the OWI charge state,

Based upon the entire review of the evidence presented, including State's Exhibit 1 [(Officer Engle's body camera footage)] and State's Exhibit 2 [(a certified abstract of Warren's driving record authored by the Department of Transportation)], and the admission of the Defendant during closing argument,4 the Court finds that the Defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in violation of Iowa Code Section 321J.2. The Court finds credible Officer Engle's observations and opinion as to the impairment of Ms. Warren on May 4, 2018, which is further supported by the body camera footage in State's Exhibit 1.

The district court did not specifically state which OWI theory it found Warren guilty under in its ruling. For Warren's OWI conviction, the district court sentenced her to a two-year indeterminate term of incarceration and an $1875 fine. For the driving while revoked conviction, the district court sentenced Warren to a one-year term of incarceration to run concurrent with her OWI sentence and a fine of $1000.

Warren appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to sustain her OWI conviction and trial counsel was ineffective in failing to seek suppression of the evidence on the basis that she was subjected to an unconstitutional seizure. We transferred the case to the court of appeals, which reversed Warren's OWI conviction due to insufficient evidence and remanded the matter for a new trial because the district court did not specify which OWI theory its verdict rested upon when the evidence did not support each theory the State presented. The court of appeals affirmed...

To continue reading

Request your trial
54 cases
  • Doss v. State
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • June 25, 2021
    ...constitutional claim but reserving the right to apply them in a manner different from federal precedent. See, e.g., State v. Warren, 955 N.W.2d 848, 859 (Iowa 2021) ; State v. Lyon, 862 N.W.2d 391, 398 (Iowa 2015) ; State v. Tyler, 830 N.W.2d 288, 291-92 (Iowa 2013). The special concurrence......
  • State v. Price-Williams
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • April 22, 2022
    ...article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. See, e.g. , State v. Warren , 955 N.W.2d 848, 859 (Iowa 2021) ("The ‘[t]emporary detention of individuals during the stop of an automobile by the police, even if only for a brief period......
  • State v. Hauge
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • April 22, 2022
    ...the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. See, e.g. , State v. Warren , 955 N.W.2d 848, 859 (Iowa 2021) ("The ‘[t]emporary detention of individuals during the stop of an automobile by the police, even if only for a brief period......
  • State v. Wright
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • June 18, 2021
    ...as if it were some kind of special authority. See, e.g. , State v. McGee , 959 N.W.2d 432, 445 (Iowa 2021) ; State v. Warren , 955 N.W.2d 848, 859 (Iowa 2021) ; State v. Brown , 930 N.W.2d 840, 846–47 (Iowa 2019). "Old habits die hard." A.E. Dick Howard, Introduction to Developments in Stat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Probable cause and reasonable suspicion: arrests, seizures, stops and frisks
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Suppressing Criminal Evidence Fourth amendment searches and seizures
    • April 1, 2022
    ...State v. Ingram , 914 N.W.2d 794 (Iowa 2018). ( Ingram specifically mentions Whren at 814). In another case, State v. Warren , 955 N.W.2d 848 (Iowa 2021), the court relied on Whren , but mentioned that the issue of pretextual stops and race, although important, was not before the court. Whr......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT