ID rejects “reasonable mistake of law” and Heien under state constitution; state’s exclusionary rule is broader

Idaho declines to adopt the “reasonable mistake of law” rule and suppresses a search incident to a warrantless arrest for a completed misdemeanor. The state’s exclusionary rule isn’t just to deter illegal police misconduct – it is considerably more, and Heien is rejected. State v. Iniguez, 2023 Ida. LEXIS 33 (Mar. 21, 2023):

Nevertheless, even if there is a difference between the rationale for the two exceptions as the State suggests; for purposes of Idaho’s independent exclusionary rule, this is a distinction without a difference. The United States Supreme Court’s rationale for the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule has, over time, devolved into existing for only one purpose: “deterrence of police misconduct.” Guzman, 122 Idaho at 992, 842 P.2d at 671. In contrast, Idaho’s independent exclusionary rule under Article I, section 17 of the Idaho Constitution exists to do more than “merely deter police misconduct[.]” Id. Our exclusionary rule operates to: (1) “provide an effective remedy to persons who have been subjected to an unreasonable government search and/or seizure;” (2) “deter the police from acting unlawfully in obtaining evidence;” (3) “encourage thoroughness in the warrant issuing process;” (4) “avoid having the judiciary commit an additional constitutional violation by considering evidence which has been obtained through illegal means;” and (5) “preserve judicial integrity.” Id. at 993, 842 P.2d at 672.

Indeed, eleven years ago, we were asked to overrule our decision in Guzman and adopt a “good-faith” exception to the warrant requirement, but we declined to do so. State v. Koivu, 152 Idaho 511, 513-19, 272 P.3d 483, 485-91 (2012). Instead, we continued to adhere to our view explained in Guzman, “announced eighty-five years ago in [State v. Arregui, 44 Idaho 43, 254 P. 788 (1927)]” (now ninety-six years ago), that the purpose of Idaho’s exclusionary rule, unlike the federal rule under the Fourth Amendment, is not merely “to deter police misconduct[.]” Koivu, 152 Idaho at 519, 272 P.3d at 491. Thus, in the context of the exclusionary rule, Article I, section 17 of the Idaho Constitution affords “greater protection than is provided by the United States Supreme Court’s construction of the Fourth Amendment.” Id.

Here, the State’s attempt at drawing a distinction between the rationale underlying the reasonable “mistake of law” exception from Heien and the “good faith” exception from Leon makes no difference for Idaho’s exclusionary rule. The United States Supreme Court’s construction of the Fourth Amendment, and its focus on deterrence, is the driving force behind the Court’s justification for adopting both exceptions to deny suppression. As explained above, Idaho’s exclusionary rule is not limited by whether suppression advances deterrence.

While we appreciate that the investigating officer relied on Idaho Code section 49-1405(1) to arrest Plata without a warrant—a statute which, prior to Clarke, enjoyed a “strong presumption of validity,” State v. Doe, 140 Idaho 271, 273, 92 P.3d 521, 523 (2004)—such reliance does not “undo” or negate the violation of Plata’s constitutional rights under Article I, section 17. Warrantless arrests for misdemeanors completed outside of an officer’s presence have been prohibited by Article I, section 17 since that provision was adopted in 1889. Clarke, 165 Idaho at 399, 446 P.3d at 457. Our decision in Clarke was simply the first time we had occasion to answer that question. Thus, contrary to the State’s reliance on Heien, the illegal arrest of Plata—even if done in “reasonable” reliance on an authorizing statute—is not a constitutionally “reasonable” seizure. A constitutional violation is not undone so long as the mistake of law was reasonable.

To hold otherwise would, however briefly, open a widow to unconstitutional governmental conduct between the time the legislature passes a statute authorizing such conduct—and our first chance to declare that statute unconstitutional, and close the window. Thus, adding a reasonable mistake of law exception to Idaho’s exclusionary rule is not only contrary to legislative deterrence, cf. Illinois v. Krull, 480 U.S. 340, 366 (1987) (O’Connor, J., dissenting) (“Providing legislatures a grace period during which the police may freely perform unreasonable searches in order to convict those who might have otherwise escaped creates a positive incentive to promulgate unconstitutional laws.”)—but contrary to judicial integrity, State v. LePage, 102 Idaho 387, 391-92, 630 P.2d 674, 678-79 (1981), and to preventing additional, independent violations of Article I, section 17 by the judiciary where illegally permitted to be admitted against a defendant, State v. Rauch, 99 Idaho 586, 593, 586 P.2d 671, 678 (1978).

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