State v. Ritz

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 03-25-2015
  • Case #: A152111
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court, DeVore, J., & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

To justify a warrantless entry into a residence under the doctrine of exigent circumstances, the state has the burden to prove that the time it would have taken to obtain a warrant would have sacrificed evidence.

Defendant appealed his conviction of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII), assigning error to the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress. Police had been called to the scene of a reported dispute, in a driveway near where a vehicle had crashed into a ditch. When the police arrived, they discovered a woman at the scene who said that she lived with Defendant, and that Defendant had been drinking that night and had driven the crashed vehicle. The woman accompanied the officer to her residence, where the officer came upon evidence to suggest Defendant had fled on foot. Police interviewed a nearby resident, who stated he had seen Defendant dangerously drive the crashed truck about 45 minutes earlier, and that he appeared to have been intoxicated. Police returned to the residence that night, and saw Defendant duck inside as they arrived. It had then been about three hours since the crash. Reasoning that Defendant’s blood alcohol level could be waning, police decided to enter the residence to arrest Defendant. They did not seek a warrant because the time required to obtain one jeopardized the blood-alcohol evidence. On appeal, Defendant argued that the entry was unlawful and the evidence obtained from it should be suppressed due to illegality. The State argued that entry was lawful based on probable cause and exigent circumstances. The Court held that to justify a warrantless entry into a residence under the doctrine of exigent circumstances, the state has the burden to prove that the time it would have taken to obtain a warrant would have sacrificed evidence. It found that in the specific circumstances of this case, the State sufficiently proved an exigent circumstance that excused the need to obtain a warrant under the Oregon Constitution. Affirmed.

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