Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Presence in Apartment Under a Warrant Sufficient to Find Stolen Property in Plain View

Edwards v. State, 05-0905 (Iowa Ct. App. 2006)

In this post conviction review case a search warrant for the defendant's apartment for drug related activity. When the warrant was executed, the officers observed a large quantity of merchandise including several bicycles. The serial numbers were checked against computer records and one of the bicycles was proved to be stolen.

The defendant was convicted of theft of the bicycle and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

The district court of Woodbury County overruled the defendant's motion to suppress evidence (which alleged that the original search warrant lacked probable cause to search for stolen property) stating that the serial number of the bicycle was in plain view.

The court of appeals concluded that the officers were legally in the suspect's apartment because there was substantial probable cause to conclude that there were drugs on the premises, and that made the warrant valid. The officers properly moved the bicycles to search for drugs (as he was required to do) and the police were thus properly in possession of the bicycles containing the serial numbers. The defendant's reliance on the plain view analysis of Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321 (1987) was therefore misplaced.



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