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Reasonable suspicion needed to search home detention participant’s residence

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the suppression of evidence found at a Tippecanoe County home by community corrections officers, finding the roommate of the man on home detention had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Tippecanoe County Community Corrections officers conducted a search of Jordan Sullivan’s home and found drugs in the bedroom of his roommate Brishen Vanderkolk. Sullivan signed a form before participating in home detention that allowed searches and seizures by TCCC, law enforcement or the court of his person, his property and his vehicle at any time.

In December 2012, when Vanderkolk was not at home, TCCC officers went to Sullivan’s residence and searched it. After smelling drugs, they did a protective sweep of the home, leading to the discovery of contraband from several rooms in the house, including Vanderkolk’s bedroom.

He filed a motion to suppress, which was granted by the trial court. At the suppression hearing, a TCCC officer testified that Sullivan’s residence was searched to ensure his compliance with the program, not because of any suspicion of illegal or improper activity.

Vanderkolk had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the residence because he lived there, so he may challenge the search on Fourth Amendment grounds, the divided Court of Appeals ruled in State of Indiana v. Brishen R. Vanderkolk, 79A04-1308-CR-407.

It is clear based on caselaw that reasonable suspicion must support a warrantless search of a probationer, or as in the instant case, a community corrections participant.

“The evidence at Vanderkolk’s suppression hearing showed that the TCCC officers believed Sullivan’s waiver justified suspicionless searches merely to ensure compliance. But the special need of supervising community corrections participants, while dispensing with probable cause, still required reasonable suspicion that evidence of Sullivan’s noncompliance would be found.,” Senior Judge Betty Barteau wrote in the majority opinion.

Judge L. Mark Bailey concurred in result in a separate opinion, and Judge James Kirsch dissented without opinion.  

 

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