CA9: Using ruse to get def home to search his car under a SW was unreasonable

Officers had a warrant for defendant’s house and any cars parked there, but defendant wasn’t home. Using a ruse of a burglary having happened, they lured him home so they could search the car. The search of the car was thus unreasonable. United States v. Ramirez, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 30635 (9th Cir. Sept. 25, 2020) (2-1):

This appeal concerns the Fourth Amendment’s limits on the government’s use of deceit when executing a valid search warrant. Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigating child pornography offenses obtained a warrant to search the residence of Stefan Ramirez and any vehicle registered to Ramirez located at or near the residence. Under the warrant and the law established by Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981), the agents had no authority to seize Ramirez or search his car when they arrived to execute the warrant, because neither was at the residence. The agents manufactured the authority to seize them by falsely claiming to be police officers responding to a burglary to lure Ramirez home.

By luring Ramirez home, the agents’ successful deceit enabled them to obtain incriminating statements from Ramirez and evidence from his car and person. The district court denied Ramirez’s motion to suppress the statements and evidence, and Ramirez thereafter pleaded guilty to receipt and distribution of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors. We hold that, under the particular facts of this case, the agents’ use of deceit to seize and search Ramirez violated the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, we reverse the suppression order and remand for further proceedings.

Note that the search warrant wasn’t for defendant’s car, too, because there likely was no nexus to the car. A search warrant for a house, however, always has permitted a search of the cars parked there at the time, hence the ruse here.

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