Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Arrest Warrants: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

State v. Nielsen, No. 06-0207, (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 18, 2007)

An arrest warrant was issued for Nielsen's arrest on a charge of Theft-5th, with a 100 mile transportation limit on the warrant.

Over a year later, two Oelwein police officers checked the license plate of a car leaving a convenience store and learned there was an existing warrant for Nielsen and that there was a 100 mile limit on the warrant. While awaiting verification of the transportation limit, the officers stopped the car.

Nielsen provided a Florida driver's license. At the same time, the Oelwein officers were advised that the Sac County sheriff was not going to come and retrieve the wayward Nielsen. One officer asked Neilsen for permission to search his car, which was given. Police uncovered s significant amount of methamphetamine and arrested Nielsen.

Nielsen moved to suppress the evidence uncovered in the search, and the trial court overruled. This appeal followed. Nielsen first argues that the warrant was invalid beyond the self imposed 100 mile limit attached by Sac County. The court differed, saying that an arrest warrant is directed to "any peace officer in the state" and it may be served anywhere in the state. The court said that an administrative limit imposed on the warrant did not define the territorial scope of the warrant. Thus, an investigatory stop was justified.

Nielsen argued that his consent to search was coerced. The record and testimony indicated there was nothing to indicate that the officer's statements or actions were coercive.

In a spank to the Appellate Defender, the court admonished thusly: "We note the lack of any evidentiary support for appellate counsel's claims concerning a threatened delay pending arrival of a drug dog."


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