ILNews

COA affirms warrantless entry

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court decision to deny a defendant's motion to suppress his arrest and charges, ruling the defendant's behavior justified the police officers to enter his home without a warrant.

In William McDermott v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0609-CR-755, McDermott brought an interlocutory appeal of the trial court order denying his motion to suppress his arrest and charges stemming from that. McDermott argued the police officers who entered his home were not justified and did so without a warrant.

Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey Wood was flagged down by a passing motorist in Beech Grove and told there was a man sitting in the roadway and interfering with traffic just south of where the officer was located. Wood approached the man, McDermott, and asked to speak with him.

McDermott cursed the officer, ran between two houses, and stood in the grass. Still refusing to talk to Wood, McDermott then walked off, ignoring Wood's questions, and entered a home without using a key. Wood, unsure if McDermott lived there or was intruding, called for back up, and continued to try to speak to McDermott. He asked for identification from McDermott to prove he lived at the home. When backup arrived, Wood and Deputy Eric Snow entered the home and Wood used a taser on McDermott, who was uncooperative and showed signs of aggression. The officers later determined McDermott lived at the home.

McDermott was charged with resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication. At trial, McDermott orally moved to suppress his arrest and all charges stemming from it. After hearing Wood's testimony, the court denied McDermott's motion.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the arrest and conviction, ruling neither state nor federal constitutional violations were committed. The sheriff's deputies did not violate Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution when they entered his home without a warrant because Deputy Wood had met all the requirements under Holder v. State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 935 (Ind. 2006), to determine the reasonableness of police conduct under all of the circumstances. The court considers the degree of suspicion, concern, or knowledge a person violated the law; the degree of intrusiveness that the search or arrest method imposes on the person; and the extent of law enforcement needs.

McDermott's behavior was suspicious and Wood called for backup because of concern when McDermott entered the home without proving he lived there. All of the facts show the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying McDermott's motion to suppress based on violations of Article 1, Section 11.

Under the facts of the case, the court found the state met its burden of demonstrating probable cause and exigent circumstances to allow the officers to enter the home without a warrant. The appellate court also affirmed the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying McDermott's motion to suppress citing violations of his Fourth Amendment rights.
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