Tyrell J., In re

Citation8 Cal.4th 68,876 P.2d 519,32 Cal.Rptr.2d 33
Decision Date28 July 1994
Docket NumberNo. S030266,S030266
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Parties, 8 Cal.4th 727A, 876 P.2d 519, 63 USLW 2131 In re TYRELL J., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. TYRELL J., Defendant and Appellant.

Stuart R. Rappaport, Public Defender (Santa Clara) and Stephen B. Elrick, Deputy Public Defender, as amici curiae on behalf of defendant and appellant.

Daniel E. Lungren, Atty. Gen., George Williamson, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert R. Anderson, Asst. Atty. Gen., Michael J. Weinberger, Thomas Y. Shigemoto and Joel Carey, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

Gil Garcetti, Dist. Atty. (Los Angeles), George M. Palmer and Brentford J. Ferreira, Deputy Dist. Attys., as amici curiae on behalf of plaintiff and respondent.

LUCAS, Chief Justice.

In this case, we confront a question on which the lower courts are divided: When a police officer conducts an otherwise illegal search of a minor, may the fruits of the search be properly admitted into evidence against the minor if the minor was subject to a probation search condition of which the officer was unaware? As we explain, we conclude that because the minor was subject to a valid condition of probation that required him to submit to warrantless searches by "any" law enforcement officer, he had no reasonable expectation of privacy over a cache of marijuana in his pants. Consequently, the search of his person was not unconstitutional despite the officer's ignorance of the search condition. We therefore reverse the decision of the Court of Appeal, which reached a contrary decision.


On May 21, 1991, appellant Tyrell J. (hereafter sometimes the minor) was declared a ward of the court for his commission of a battery on school grounds, a misdemeanor. He was placed on probation subject to a variety of conditions, including that he "[s]ubmit to a search of [his] person and property, with or without a warrant, by any law enforcement officer, probation officer or school official."

On the evening of October 3, 1991, Officer Douglas Villemin, a member of the Fresno Police Department juvenile tactical team, was in uniform and on patrol at McLane Stadium, where a football game was in progress between Bullard High School and Roosevelt High School. Also at the game were Detectives Stanfield and Berry of the Fresno Police Department. Villemin was aware that the week before, at a game between Bullard and Edison High Schools, there was a shooting incident involving two local gangs, the "6 Deuce Diamond Crips" and the "U-Boys."

The minor and two male friends were in the stadium and approached Officer Villemin.

                [876 P.2d 522] Detective Berry informed Villemin that all three young men were members of the U-Boys gang.  Villemin noticed that although the temperature exceeded 80 degrees that evening, one of the minor's friends was wearing a heavy, quilted coat.  Villemin and Stanfield approached the trio and asked them to "hold up."   Stanfield pulled away the heavy coat and saw a large hunting knife.  The officers then asked all 3 to walk to a fence about 15 to 20 feet away.  They complied

As the minor walked toward the fence, Officer Villemin observed the minor (whose back was to Villemin) adjust his trousers three times in the area of his crotch. Villemin suspected the minor was trying to move or recover a weapon. On arriving at the fence, Villemin conducted a pat-search of the minor, including the minor's crotch area. Villemin noticed the minor's pants were unbuttoned and partially unzipped. In addition, Villemin felt a soft object approximately three inches in diameter and twelve inches long; the major part of the object protruded from the minor's pants. Although Villemin did not believe the object was a weapon, he retrieved it and determined it was a bag of marijuana.

A petition was filed alleging the minor was a person coming within the provisions of Welfare and Institutions Code section 602, in that he possessed marijuana for the purpose of sale (Health & Saf.Code, § 11359). The minor denied the allegation and moved to suppress the evidence of the marijuana. (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 700.1.) At the hearing on the motion, the minor testified and stated his belt and pants had become undone, and when he and his friends were confronted by police, he was merely trying to refasten his pants. Officer Villemin testified he was unaware of the minor's search condition at the time he searched him. The juvenile court referee denied the suppression motion and the minor was declared a ward of the court.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal reversed. The court found it was undisputed that Officer Villemin lacked probable cause to search the minor, 1 and reasoned that the fortuity of the search condition did not validate the otherwise improper search. We thereafter granted the People's petition for review.

A. Introduction

We begin with some basic propositions. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures by police officers and other government officials. (New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985) 469 U.S. 325, 335, 105 S.Ct. 733, 739, 83 L.Ed.2d 720.) This constitutional proscription is enforced by an exclusionary rule, generally prohibiting admission at trial of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (United States v. Leon (1984) 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677; Alderman v. United States (1969) 394 U.S. 165, 89 S.Ct. 961, 22 L.Ed.2d 176; In re Lance W. (1985) 37 Cal.3d 873, 881-884, 210 Cal.Rptr. 631, 694 P.2d 744; People v. Cahan (1955) 44 Cal.2d 434, 282 P.2d 905; see Mapp v. Ohio (1960) 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081 [federal exclusionary rule applicable to the states].) The exclusionary rule applies to juvenile proceedings that--as here--are filed pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 602. (In re William G. (1985) 40 Cal.3d 550, 567, fn. 17, 221 Cal.Rptr. 118, 709 P.2d 1287.)

Since the passage of Proposition 8 and its amendment of article I, section 28, subdivision (d), of the state Constitution, state and federal claims regarding the admissibility of evidence obtained by an allegedly improper search or seizure "are reviewed under the same standard." (People v. Clark (1993) 5 Cal.4th 950, 979, fn. 5, 22 Cal.Rptr.2d 689, 857 P.2d 1099; People v. McPeters (1992) 2 Cal.4th 1148, 1171, 9 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 832 P.2d 146; In re Lance W., supra, 37 Cal.3d 873, 210 Cal.Rptr. 631, 694 P.2d 744.) Our state Constitution thus forbids the courts to order the exclusion of evidence at trial as a remedy for an unreasonable search and seizure unless that remedy is required by the federal Constitution as interpreted by

[876 P.2d 523] the United States Supreme Court. We thus turn first to whether the high court has spoken on this topic.

B. Federal Law

"The Fourth Amendment proscribes all unreasonable searches and seizures, and it is a cardinal principle that 'searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment--subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.' " (Mincey v. Arizona (1978) 437 U.S. 385, 390, 98 S.Ct. 2408, 2412, 57 L.Ed.2d 290, quoting Katz v. United States (1967) 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 514, 19 L.Ed.2d 576, fn. omitted; see Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Assn. (1989) 489 U.S. 602, 619, 109 S.Ct. 1402, 1414, 103 L.Ed.2d 639.) When law enforcement officers conduct a warrantless search, the People bear the burden of justifying the search under a recognized exception to the constitutional warrant requirement. (Welsh v. Wisconsin (1984) 466 U.S. 740, 749-750, 104 S.Ct. 2091, 2097-2098, 80 L.Ed.2d 732; People v. James (1977) 19 Cal.3d 99, 106, 137 Cal.Rptr. 447, 561 P.2d 1135.)

The United States Supreme Court, however, recognizes exceptions to this rule when " ' "special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable-cause requirement impracticable." ' [Citations.] When faced with such special needs, we have not hesitated to balance the governmental and privacy interests to assess the practicality of the warrant and probable-cause requirements in the particular context. See, e.g., Griffin v. Wisconsin [ (1987) 483 U.S. 868] at 873 [107 S.Ct. 3164 at 3168, 97 L.Ed.2d 709] (search of probationer's home); New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691, 699-703 [107 S.Ct. 2636, 2642-2644, 96 L.Ed.2d 601] (1987) (search of premises of certain highly regulated businesses); O'Connor v. Ortega [ (1987) 480 U.S. 709] at 721-725 [107 S.Ct. 1492, 1499-1502, 94 L.Ed.2d 714] (work-related searches of employees' desks and offices); New Jersey v. T.L.O. [ (1985) 469 U.S. 325] at 337-342 [105 S.Ct. 733 at 740-742, 83 L.Ed.2d 720] (search of student's property by school officials); Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 558-560 [99 S.Ct. 1861, 1884-85, 60 L.Ed.2d 447] (1979) (body cavity searches of prison inmates)." (Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Assn., supra, 489 U.S. at pp. 619-620, 109 S.Ct. at pp. 1414-1415; see Treasury Employees v. Von Raab (1989) 489 U.S. 656, 665-666, 109 S.Ct. 1384, 1390-1391, 103 L.Ed.2d 685.)

Griffin v. Wisconsin (1987) 483 U.S. 868, 107 S.Ct. 3164, 97 L.Ed.2d 709 (hereafter Griffin ) marks the only time the Supreme Court has addressed the question of the constitutionality of probation search conditions. We thus turn to that case for initial guidance. In Griffin, Joseph Griffin was placed on probation subject to conditions " 'set by the court and rules and regulations established by the [Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services].' " (Id. at p. 870, 107 S.Ct. at p. 3167, quoting Wis.Stat. § 973.10(1) (1985-1986).) One...

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