CA10: Noting circuit split, there was PC here for entry under Payton “reason to believe” standard

There was probable cause to believe defendant was in his travel trailer for an entry under Payton. The court notes a circuit split. United States v. Maley, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 17644 (10th Cir. June 14, 2021):

As the officers had an arrest warrant for Mr. Maley but not a search warrant for his travel trailer, they could only have entered his travel trailer if there was “reason to believe the suspect [was] within.” Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 603 (1980). However, there is a circuit split over the meaning of “reason to believe” under Payton. At issue here, the Ninth Circuit, where the search at issue occurred, interprets “reason to believe” to “embod[y] the same standard of reasonableness inherent in probable cause.” United States v. Gorman, 314 F.3d 1105, 1112 (9th Cir. 2002). Conversely, the Tenth Circuit, where Mr. Maley was charged, interprets “reason to believe” to mean something less than probable cause. Valdez v. McPheters, 172 F.3d 1220, 1224-25, 1227 n. 5 (10th Cir. 1999). Mr. Maley urges this court to apply the law of where the search or seizure occurred — lex loci. However, we need not decide this issue for two reasons. First, the government does not argue that we should apply the law of the Tenth Circuit. Second, as discussed below, even if we apply the higher standard of reasonableness of the Ninth Circuit, we still conclude that the officers had probable cause to enter Mr. Maley’s trailer. See United States v. Denson, 775 F.3d 1214, 1217 (10th Cir. 2014) (declining to evaluate our interpretation of “reason to believe” under Payton because “nothing turn[ed] on its answer”). As such, we only evaluate whether the officers had probable cause to enter Mr. Maley’s trailer.

“Probable cause is not a high bar,” District of Columbia v. Wesby, 138 S. Ct. 577, 586 (2018) (citation omitted), and only requires a “fair probability” that the suspect would be inside, United States v. Ludwig, 641 F.3d 1243, 1252 n.5 (10th Cir. 2011). The determination is made looking at the “totality of the circumstances.” Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366, 371 (2003).

The officers had probable cause to enter the travel trailer. The government cites to ten points it argues collectively indicate that the officers had probable cause to enter the travel trailer. While many are not dispositive, several of the factors taken together support a finding that there was probable cause to enter the trailer.

Officers had a reasonable belief Mr. Maley lived in the residence, which supports a finding of probable cause. See Denson, 775 F.3d at 1217. The residence was the address on Mr. Maley’s Arizona ID card, the address where his vehicles were registered, and the address where his family was living. Further, officers saw his travel trailer fully hooked up on site, and Special Agent Acee had previously seen Mr. Maley living in the travel trailer. The officers also saw Mr. Maley’s black Dodge pickup truck, which could also suggest that Mr. Maley was present at the address. See Valdez, 172 F.3d at 1226 (“The suspect’s presence may be suggested by the presence of an automobile.”). While officers had never seen Mr. Maley drive the pickup truck before, it was reasonable for them to believe it was his truck. The truck was present at Mr. Maley’s prior residence in Las Cruces and outfitted with a towing package, suggesting it was the vehicle Mr. Maley used to bring his travel trailer to Arizona. The officers also knew that Mr. Maley had no legitimate employment in the past six years, favoring an inference that he was home. …

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