Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Consent Search Standard of Proof is Preponderance

State v. Chidester, No. 06-0566 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 31 2007).

Chidester's vehicle was stopped by a Waterloo PD officer because the taillights were out. A consent search of the car produced no contraband. The officer asked Chidester if he could perform a patdown search for officer safety and Chidester somewhat reluctantly assented. A marijuana pipe was recovered, Chidester was arrested, and in a search incident to arrest a package of methamphetamine was recovered.

Chidester moved to suppress the evidence. Although Chidester had not been Mirandized after the arrest, the trial court did not suppress the patdown or the search incident to arrest. The court of appeals held that the state had met its burden to show by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant had consented ot the search.

The takehome from this case for all of us who work in the field is the legal standard the state has to meet in a motion to suppress the fruits of a consent search. It is preponderance of the evidence, NOT reasonable doubt.


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