W.D.Mo.: Parked RV hooked up to water and electricity with satellite dish on roof with grill and trashcan outside wasn’t subject to automobile exception

Defendant’s RV was being used as a residence when it was searched, and the automobile exception does not apply. Because it was a residence, the search warrant didn’t specify it within the residences to be searched in the search warrant, and its search was thus warrantless. United States v. Houck, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130650 (W.D. Mo. June 16, 2017), adopted, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129536 (W.D. Mo. Aug. 15, 2017):

However, Defendant’s RV was not objectively being used as transportation at the time of the search and therefore does not satisfy the second requirement of Carney. By the time Det. Kreider was performing his surveillance on the residence, the RV was already parked on private property. (Id.) It had been leveled, was fully extended to maximize the indoor living space, was hooked up to electricity and water, and had a satellite dish attached to the roof. (Doc. 31, Gov’t Ex. 3.) Furthermore, the door possessed a lock, the stairs were lowered, and a garbage can and grill were located outside the door. (Id.) When officers arrived at the residence, the air conditioning in the RV was running, and Defendant and Shelly were located in the RV by law enforcement. (Doc. 31.) Moreover, Det. Kreider testified that he believed Defendant was staying in the RV at the time he applied for the search warrant. (Id.) He further stated that upon entering the RV, it did appear that someone was living there. (Id.) Thus the evidence, when viewed by an objective observer, supports the finding that the RV was a residence and required a separate warrant. Briscoe, 2017 WL 1908594 at *6. Because the RV was a residence and not a vehicle, the automobile exception cannot apply.

Having determined the RV to be a residence, the Court must now determine whether the search of the RV violated Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by government actors. U.S. Const. amend. IV; United States v. Va Lerie, 424 F.3d 694, 701 (8th Cir. 2005). A Fourth Amendment search occurs “when an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to consider reasonable is infringed.” United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984). In general, a warrantless search of a home is presumptively unreasonable. Pile, 820 F.3d at 316. A valid warrant must “particularly [describe] the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” United States v. Timley, 443 F.3d 615, 622 (8th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation and marks omitted). Such specificity is required in order to avoid any reasonable probability that another place might mistakenly be searched. United States v. Alberts, 721 F.2d 636, 639 (8th Cir. 1983). Any evidence obtained as a result of a search which exceeds the scope of the warrant is subject to the exclusionary rule. United States v. McManaman, 673 F.3d 841, 846 (8th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation and marks omitted). Moreover, “any evidence later discovered and found to be derivative of an illegality or ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’” is also subject to exclusion. United States v. Segura, 468 U.S. 796, 804 (1984) (quotation omitted). Government actors executing a search warrant “must ensure that the search is conducted in such a way that minimizes unwarranted intrusions into an individual’s privacy.” United States v. Gregoire, 2009 WL 5216844, at *8 (D. Minn. Dec. 29, 2009), aff’d, 638 F.3d 962 (8th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted). Therefore, searching anywhere, or anything, other than what is particularly described in the warrant exceeds the scope of the warrant. United States v. Pennington, 287 F.3d 739, 744 (8th Cir. 2002) (quotation omitted). Once a defendant alleges sufficient evidence for the court to grant a suppression hearing, it becomes the government’s burden to prove that a warrantless search is justified. United States v. Madrid, 152 F.3d 1034, 1037 (8th Cir. 1998).

Society is prepared to recognize an expectation of privacy in a residence. Therefore, because Defendant’s RV was a residence and not a vehicle, any search of the RV or seizure of items within would require a search warrant. The warrant must be based on probable cause and particularly describe the RV as a place to be searched. Det. Kreider testified to his belief that there existed sufficient probable cause to obtain a search warrant based on statements Defendant made to law enforcement prior to leaving the property for the police station. (Doc. 31.) However, Det. Kreider did not seek a second search warrant at that time. Rather, officers proceeded to execute the warrant that did not describe Defendant’s RV as a place to be searched at all, let alone with any particularity. (Gov’t Ex. 1.) The only place to be searched described in the warrant executed on July 2, 2015 was the residence at 720 Holly Tree Road and vehicles on the property. (Id.) Because Defendant’s RV was a residence and was not described in the search warrant executed on July 2, 2015, the search of the RV exceeded the scope of the search warrant in violation of Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights.

This entry was posted in Automobile exception, Particularity. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.