State v. Towai

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 04-19-2017
  • Case #: A159835
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. pro tempore for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; & DeHoog, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Article 1, Section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, an “inventory” (1) must be conducted pursuant to a policy that has been adopted by “politically accountable officials”; (2) the officer performing the inventory must not deviate from the “established policy or procedures of that particular law enforcement agency”; and (3) if those requirements are met, then a must “assure that such policies and procedures . . . do not violate constitutional guarantees. State v. Atkinson, 298 Or. 1, 8-10 (1984).

Defendant appealed a judgment of convictions for unlawful possession of methamphetamine (ORS 475.894), and interfering with a peace officer (ORS 162.247). Defendant assigned error to the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained during the officers' inventory of Defendant’s belongings. Defendant argued that the state failed to prove that the officers opened and looked through his bag pursuant to a valid inventory policy (Tigard Municipal Code 2.30.060.B.3). Searches conducted without a warrant are per se unreasonable, unless the search falls within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement. State v. Cherry, 262 Or. App 612, 616, 325 P.3d 813 (2014) (citing State v. Davis, 295 Or 227, 237 (1983). One exception to a warrantless search is “an ‘inventory’ of property that has lawfully come into police custody.” Id. 262 Or. App at 616. Under Article 1, Section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, an “inventory” (1) must be conducted pursuant to a policy that has been adopted by “politically accountable officials”; (2) the officer performing the inventory must not deviate from the “established policy or procedures of that particular law enforcement agency”; and (3) if those requirements are met, then a court must “assure that such policies and procedures . . . do not violate constitutional guarantees. State v. Atkinson, 298 Or. 1, 8-10 (1984). The Court of Appeals held Defendant did not prove the officers deviated from the relevant inventory policy because the officers conducted a lawful inventory of defendant’s backpack following Tigard Municipal Code 2.30.060.B.3. Affirmed. 

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