Monday, February 23, 2009

Search of a Parolee's Hotel Room

State v. Ochoa, no. 08-0412 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 19, 2009)

Ochoa was on parole. He signed a parole agreement which contained an agreement to submit to a search at any time with or without a warrant. He was staying in a hotel in Bettendorf in a high crime area and a policeman, aware of Ochoa's status as a parolee, asked to search his room. Drugs were found and Ochoa was charged with possession of controlled substances and illegal possession of a prescription drug. 

At trial, Ochoa moved to suppress, arguing that there was no reasonable suspicion, no consent, and that the parole agreement did not justify the search. His motion was granted, and the State petitioned for further review. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's grant of the motion to suppress.

The court of appeals noted that paroled inmates are under the supervision of the Department of Corrections and are required to comply with the terms and conditions of their parole.  The court of appeals found further support in Samson v. California, 547 U.S. 843 (2006), which is esssentially identical on the facts as Ochoa's case.

Parolees are under the custody of the Department of Corrections, serving their sentences outside prison walls. They sign a parole agreement in which they consent to the terms and conditions of their release. Because Ochoa and Samson had no reasonable expectation of privacy because of their status as parolees, reasonable cause analysis did not apply.


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