Cal.2d: 911 call about threat to shoot oneself supports entry and cursory search for weapons

A 911 call about an apparent threat to shoot oneself supports a community caretaking entry and cursory look around the house. People v. Ovieda, 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 34 (2d Dist. Jan. 17, 2018):

Over 50 years ago, wise and prescient Chief Justice Phil Gibson planted the judicial seed for what we now call the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment. We apply it here. (People v. Roberts (1956) 47 Cal.2d 374, 379-380 (Roberts); see also People v. Ray (1999) 21 Cal.4th 464, 471 (Ray).)

Willie Ovieda appeals his conviction by plea to manufacturing concentrated cannabis (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379.6, subd. (a)) and possession of an assault weapon (Pen. Code, § 30605, subd. (a)), entered after the trial court denied his motion to suppress evidence (Pen. Code, § 1538.5). Pursuant to a negotiated plea, probation was granted with 180 days county jail and outpatient mental health treatment.

Appellant contends his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when officers, in responding to a 911 call that he was about to shoot himself, made a “cursory search” of appellant’s residence to make sure no one was hurt and no firearms were lying about. The trial court factually found that the search was a reasonable exercise of the officers’ community caretaking duty. We affirm because there is no reason to apply to the exclusionary rule. As we shall explain, the instant entry and “cursory search” had nothing to do with the gathering of evidence to support a criminal prosecution. This is, of course, the lynchpin for application of the exclusionary rule. When a person unsuccessfully attempts suicide in his residence with a firearm, and thereafter comes outside, the police may enter the residence to perform a “cursory search” pursuant to their “community caretaking” duty.

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