N.D.Iowa: Ten day delay in getting SW for def’s car where he was in custody and investigation was ongoing was not unreasonable

There was probable cause for the search and seizure of defendant’s vehicle for evidence of a violent crime. The fact a plain view wasn’t possible at the moment of the stop doesn’t mean there wasn’t. The police department with the vehicle was actively investigating and the ten day delay in getting a search warrant wasn’t unreasonable under all the circumstances. Moreover, defendant was in custody the whole time and had a lesser possessory interest. United States v. Bridges, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88709 (N.D. Iowa May 10, 2021):

First, defendant was in custody at the Hardin County Jail for the entire period of the seizure prior to the warrant being executed. Thus, his possessory interest in the Kia could not have been realized even if the IFPD had released the vehicle. The only other person who could plausibly have made a claim to the Kia was defendant’s father, the registered owner of the vehicle. It seems that the Kia was, for all intents and purposes, defendant’s vehicle, however. Whatever legal interest defendant’s father may have had in the Kia notwithstanding, his privacy interest in the vehicle was minimal.

Second, the interest of law enforcement in preserving potential evidence was high. Faced with a violent crime involving a firearm and a potential link between the assault of February 15 and the firearms and drugs discovered in connection with the January 3 incident, the IFPD had an overriding interest in preventing the dissipation of evidence in the Kia. This interest became more heightened with every passing day. Even as Sergeant Wegg pursued a search warrant, further investigation revealed steadily more evidence connecting defendant to suspected crimes. Most notably, defendant made calls to numerous people while in custody urging them to retrieve the Kia and to not allow the police to search it. Releasing the Kia prior to a search would almost certainly have resulted in the destruction of evidence. The Court finds that the continued seizure of the Kia until a search warrant was obtained to be reasonable given the weight of the interests involved.

Further, the Court finds that the lapse of ten days from the time of seizure to execution of the search warrant reflects not a lack of diligence on behalf of the IFPD, but rather a lack of manpower. The IFPD is a small department and is unable to devote an officer such as Sergeant Wegg to a single investigation. Sergeant Wegg had to balance his duties as a patrol officer with his investigation of defendant’s activities. This resulted in a delay between the seizure of the Kia and the execution of the search warrant, but not one which was unreasonable under the circumstances. Defendant’s objection on this ground is overruled.

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