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Lane v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

February 16, 2017

ADAM EUGENE LANE APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. CR-2015-90-A] HONORABLE STEPHEN TABOR, JUDGE.

          David L. Dunagin, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Valerie Glover Fortner, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RHONDA K. WOOD, Associate Justice.

         Appellant Adam Lane, a parolee, appeals the judgment of the Sebastian County Circuit Court denying his motion to suppress evidence that officers discovered in his hotel room. Lane argues on appeal that the circuit court erred in denying his motion because the officers entered without a warrant and without knocking and announcing their presence in compliance with the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article II, section 15 of the Arkansas Constitution. It is an issue of first impression in Arkansas whether the knock-and-announce rule applies to parolees, and if it does apply, whether the exclusionary rule is the appropriate remedy. Lane also argues that that circuit court should have granted his motion in limine to exclude an affidavit in which he took criminal responsibility for the contraband discovered in the hotel room. We hold that the knock-and-announce rule applies to parolees, but that the exclusionary rule is not the appropriate remedy. We also hold that Lane's affidavit should not be excluded under the Arkansas Rules of Evidence. Therefore, we affirm.

         I. Background

         In January 2015, Lane, who was on parole from the Arkansas Department of Correction, was staying at a hotel in Fort Smith. Lane had appeared for his initial parole intake but had failed to report to his Arkansas Department of Community Corrections parole officer, Adam Nading, in January as instructed. Lane also had violated a condition of his release by staying at the hotel, which was not his primary residence, without prior approval.

         Nading learned that Lane was staying at the hotel and went there with a Fort Smith police officer. The hotel manager used an electronic key device to open the locked door for the officers. The officers did not knock or announce their presence before entering the room. Lane, who had been asleep in bed with a female companion, was arrested by the officers. Next to the bed, officers observed several baggies containing methamphetamine. The officers discovered more methamphetamine and a handgun in the bed.

         Following his arrest, Lane authored a statement wherein he stated that the drugs found in the hotel room were his, not his companion's. A jail employee notarized the statement. Lane was charged as a habitual criminal offender with simultaneous possession of drugs and a firearm, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized during his arrest on the basis that the officers entered his hotel room without a warrant and failed to knock and announce their presence. He also filed a motion in limine to exclude the signed statement. The circuit court denied both motions. The jury convicted Lane of the charges, and the circuit court sentenced Lane to seventy years' imprisonment.

         II. Motion to Suppress

         When we review a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence de novo, we make an independent determination based on the totality of the circumstances. Cherry v. State, 302 Ark. 462, 731 S.W.2d 354 (1990). We reverse the trial court only if the ruling was clearly against the preponderance of the evidence. Id.

         To resolve the issue presented here, we first must decide whether the officers lawfully entered the hotel room without a warrant. If we determine that their entry was lawful, we then must determine whether the "knock and announce" rules of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article II, section 15 of the Arkansas Constitution apply to parolees. If knock and announce does apply, and since the parties agree that there were no exigent circumstances, we must then decide whether exclusion of the evidence is warranted.

         A. Warrantless Entry

         We first conclude that the officers' warrantless entry into Lane's hotel room was lawful. As part of his "Conditions of Release" from the Arkansas Department of Correction, Lane consented to a warrantless search and seizure of his "person, place of residence, and motor vehicles." In Cherry, we held that such consents-in-advance do not violate the Fourth Amendment because "[t]he special needs of the parole process call for intensive supervision of the parolee making the warrant requirement impractical" and because parolees have a "diminished expectation of privacy." Id. at 467, 731 S.W.2d at 357. However, parole officers may carry out searches only if reasonable grounds exist to investigate whether the parolee had violated the terms of his parole. Id.

         Here, the entry into Lane's hotel room was lawful because reasonable grounds existed. Lane had violated a condition of his parole by failing to report to Nading in January. Furthermore, among the conditions of Lane's parole was that he not stay away from his designated residence without prior approval from his parole officer. Nading had not approved Lane's stay at the ...


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