State v. Lambert

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-18-2014
  • Case #: A151279
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and DeVore, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The administrative seizure exception applies when the seizure is "specifically authorized by law," and suspicions of criminal activity "play no part" in the officer's decision to seize the property; a tent falls within the burglary statute if the tent was modified for use in a business.

On appeal, defendant assigned error to the denial of his motions to suppress evidence obtained after police searched his vehicle. Defendant argues that the vehicle was illegally seized when police, acting without a warrant, towed the vehicle to an impound lot; defendant argues further that the warrant that police later relied upon to search the vehicle was issued without probable cause. Defendant also assigns error to the denial of his motion for a judgment of acquittal on the burglary charges, arguing that the state failed to establish that he entered a "building" within the meaning of ORS 164.215. The tow of defendant's vehicle did not fall within the administrative seizure exception because the vehicle was parked in a public area and no evidence was presented to show that a tow was imminent. The vehicle was towed because the officer believed it would later be subjected to a warranted search. Suspicions of criminal activity can play no part in the towing of a vehicle using the administrative seizure exception. Therefore, defendant's vehicle was unlawfully seized. The Court rejected defendant's argument that evidence was relied upon in the warrant that was "stale." It was likely the items taken in the first burglary were still in the vehicle at the time of the warrant application a month later. The Court found that the tent was considered a "building" for the purpose of the burglary statute because the tent was modified for use in the victim's business. Convictions on Counts 2 and 3 vacated and remanded for further proceedings; otherwise affirmed.

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