State v. Wright

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-17-2016
  • Case #: A154620
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Egan, J.; & DeHoog, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

As an exception to the warrant requirement, exigent circumstances "require the police to act swiftly to prevent danger to life or serious damage to property, or to forestall a suspect's escape or the destruction of evidence."

Defendant appealed judgment of conviction for attempting to elude a police officer, DUII, reckless driving, and resisting arrest. Defendant assigned error to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence gathered in a private garage without a warrant. An officer observed Defendant commit several traffic infractions. When the officer turned on his overhead lights, Defendant accelerated away from the officer into a private garage. The officer followed Defendant into the garage, gave Defendant a breath test and arrested him for DUII. Defendant moved to suppress the breath test and officer's observations in the garage because the officer did not have a warrant to enter the garage. The trial court decided that the exigent circumstances and hot-pursuit warrant exceptions applied to allow the officer to enter the garage and arrest Defendant because there was probable cause to believe that Defendant was attempting to escape. Exigent circumstances "require the police to act swiftly to prevent danger to life or serious damage to property, or to forestall a suspect's escape or the destruction of evidence." The State argued that the officer's actions were justified by a need to prevent Defendant's escape. Given Defendant's choices to drive away from the officer once his lights were on, ignore the officer when he approached Defendant's window, and drive into a private garage and shut the door, the Court held that it was reasonable to conclude that Defendant was intent on escaping from the officer, giving him legal authority to enter the garage and collect evidence. Affirmed.

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