Defendant was subject to home post-release supervision visits conducted at reasonable times. This one was 6:00-6:15 am when sunrise was nearly 7 am. This was effectively a nighttime search of his house and was thus unreasonable. Suppressed. United States v. Irons, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168844 (E.D.N.C. Dec. 7, 2016):
B. The warrantless search of Irons’ home violated his warrantless search condition because it was not conducted at a reasonable time.
An individual’s expectation of privacy is at its apex in his home. United States v. Gray, 491 F.3d 138, 145-46 (4th Cir. 2007). Generally, an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the activities within his home; thus, “the home is accorded the full range of Fourth Amendment protections.” Lewis v. United States, 385 U.S. 206, 211, 87 S. Ct. 424, 17 L. Ed. 2d 312 (1966); see Florida v. Jardines, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 1409, 1414, 185 L. Ed. 2d 495 (2013) (“[W]hen it comes to the Fourth Amendment, the home is first among equals.”).
A search conducted at night is more intrusive than a search conducted during the day. See Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 477, 91 S. Ct. 2022, 29 L. Ed. 2d 564 (1971) (describing midnight entry into a dwelling as an “extremely serious intrusion”). The Supreme Court has found it “difficult to imagine a more severe invasion of privacy than the nighttime intrusion into a private home.” Jones v. United States, 357 U.S. 493, 498, 78 S. Ct. 1253, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1514, 1958-2 C.B. 1005 (1958).
In this case, the terms of Irons’ warrantless search condition required any warrantless searches to occur “at reasonable times.” Def.’s Mot. Suppress [DE-36] Ex. 2. The search of Irons’ residence occurred between 6:00 a.m. and 6:15 a.m on February 23, 2016. On that day, the time of sunrise in Lumberton, North Carolina, where the search occurred, was 6:51:52 a.m. See Sunrise Sunset, http://sunrise-sunset.org/us/lumberton-nc/2016/2 (last visited December 6, 2016). Thus, it was still dark when the officers entered and searched Irons’ home. The Government admits that the officers found Irons and his girlfriend still asleep in bed. Gov’t.’s Resp. [DE-39] at 2. This warrantless intrusion into Irons’ home was well before daylight, and therefore, the search was not conducted at a reasonable time.
C. The warrantless search of Irons’ home violated his warrantless search condition because it was not conducted for purposes reasonably related to his supervision.
As noted, any warrantless search of Irons must be conducted “for purposes reasonably related to [his] supervision.” Def.’s Mot. Suppress [DE-36] Ex. 2. It is undisputed that Iron’s supervising officer, Officer Floyd, was not present at the time of the search. Instead of the search being supervisory in nature, it was conducted as part of a joint law enforcement initiative referred to as Operation Zero Hour. Officer Floyd participated in Operation Zero Hour only to the extent that he positively identified Irons in a post-raid photograph line-up. Because the warrantless search of Irons’ home was not conducted or supervised by his supervising officer, the search was not reasonably related to his supervision.
D. The guns and drugs seized during the illegal search of Irons’ home must be suppressed.
Because the warrantless search of Irons’ home did not comply with the conditions of his warrantless search condition, he was not required to submit to the search. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1368.4(e)(10) (providing that supervisees are not required to “submit to any other searches that would otherwise be unlawful”). The warrantless search of Irons’ home violated North Carolina law and his rights under the Fourth Amendment.