Timmons v. State

Decision Date07 September 2000
Docket NumberNo. 12A04-9904-CR-165.,12A04-9904-CR-165.
Citation734 N.E.2d 1084
PartiesJay M. TIMMONS, Appellant-Defendant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

Richard D. Martin, Miller & Martin, Frankfort, Indiana, Attorney for Appellant.

Jeffrey A. Modisett, Attorney General of Indiana, James B. Martin, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana, Attorneys for Appellee.


ROBB, Judge

Jay Timmons petitions this court for rehearing of our decision dated February 7, 2000. In that opinion, we held, in part, that the telephonic arrest warrant by which Timmons was arrested in his home was fatally defective, but that the exclusionary rule did not bar evidence revealed pursuant to the arrest. Timmons v. State, 723 N.E.2d 916, 920-22 (Ind.Ct.App.2000). Thus, we concluded that the trial court did not err in denying Timmons' motion to suppress. We grant Timmons' petition for rehearing to revisit the application of the exclusionary rule to the facts of this case.

Briefly, the facts surrounding Timmons' arrest are that a Frankfort Police Department officer received a dispatch regarding two hit-and-run accidents that had recently occurred. Several witnesses at the scene identified Timmons as the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle. The officer determined that the car parked in front of Timmons' residence matched the description of the hit-and-run vehicle, and he also observed property damage to the car. Timmons' sister confirmed that Timmons was inside the residence and refused to come out. Failure to stop after an accident is a misdemeanor charge. Thus, the investigating officer procured an arrest warrant for Timmons via a telephonic conference with a Clinton County judge. The police thereafter entered Timmons' home and arrested him. Upon encountering Timmons inside his home, the officers observed that he appeared to be intoxicated, and asked him to submit to a portable breath test, which he declined. Ultimately, Timmons was charged with one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Class D felony, one count of driving with a suspended license, a Class D felony, and two counts of failure to stop after an accident, Class A and B misdemeanors, respectively.

Timmons filed a motion to suppress, contending that the telephonic arrest warrant was invalid, that the arrest was illegal, and seeking to suppress any evidence resulting from the warrantless arrest. The trial court denied the motion. We held that the arrest warrant was indeed defective because virtually none of the statutory requirements were met, and we characterized the warrant as "nonexistent." 723 N.E.2d at 920. We thus agreed with Timmons that the arrest inside his home violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Id. However, we held that the challenged evidence was nonetheless admissible under the Supreme Court's decision in New York v. Harris, 495 U.S. 14, 110 S.Ct. 1640, 109 L.Ed.2d 13 (1990).

In Harris, the Supreme Court held that incriminating statements made by a murder suspect following an illegal arrest in his home were not subject to the exclusionary rule. Timmons argues on rehearing that our application of Harris is erroneous because Harris applies only to Fifth Amendment statements and should not have been extended to include tangible physical evidence. We disagree with Timmons' premise that Harris is applicable only to cases involving statements. The facts in Harris were such that the Court was only required to determine the admissibility of a statement obtained after an illegal, warrantless arrest in the defendant's home; however, we do not believe application of the rule espoused need be limited only to statements. See 495 U.S. at 20, 110 S.Ct. 1640 ("Even though we decline to suppress the statements made outside the home following a [warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect's home in order to make a routine felony arrest], the principal incentive to obey [the rule] still obtains: the police know that a warrantless entry will lead to the suppression of any evidence found, or statements taken, inside the home.") (emphasis added).

Notwithstanding our continued belief that Harris could apply to this case dealing with tangible physical evidence, on reconsideration, we believe that Harris is distinguishable from this case and should not be used as authority for allowing the evidence obtained pursuant to an illegal arrest. In Harris, the defendant was suspected of murder, and the police went to his home without a warrant to question him. The defendant was Mirandized and admitted to the murder. He was then arrested and taken to the police station, where he was again Mirandized and signed an inculpatory statement. He was Mirandized a third time and videotaped during an incriminating interview with the district attorney despite having indicated that he wanted to end the interrogation. The first and third statements were suppressed; however, the Supreme Court allowed the second statement to stand because even though there is case law holding that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from making a warrantless and nonconsensual entry into the home in order to make a routine felony arrest even where there is probable cause to make the arrest, see Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639 (1980), "nothing in the reasoning of [Payton] suggests that an arrest in the home without a warrant but with probable cause somehow renders unlawful continued custody of the suspect once he is removed from the house." Harris, 495 U.S. at 18, 110 S.Ct. 1640.

There are at least three important differences between Harris and this case. First, the police in Harris had probable cause prior to the arrest to believe that the defendant had committed a felony, whereas prior to the arrest in this case, the police had, at best, probable cause to believe that Timmons had committed two misdemeanors. "[A] warrantless arrest is permissible if a misdemeanor is committed in the officer's presence or, if, at the time of the arrest, the officer has probable cause to believe that the defendant has committed a felony." Foster v. State, 633 N.E.2d 337, 346 (Ind.Ct.App.1994). See also Ind.Code § 35-33-1-1. Thus, setting aside for a moment the fact that the arrests took place in the home, and assuming that the events in Harris had occurred here in Indiana, the police in Harris would have had every right to arrest the defendant without a warrant because they had probable cause that he had committed the felony offense of murder. However, unless the officers had personally witnessed Timmons' alleged failure to stop for an accident, they were required to have a warrant in order to arrest him. The fact that the officers had or could have established probable cause of a felony offense after the arrest is not sufficient to justify an otherwise illegal arrest. The officers needed to have probable cause at the time of the arrest in order to obviate the warrant requirement. Thus, the officers' continued custody of Timmons for the misdemeanor offenses, as well as any other offenses subsequently discovered,...

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