State v. Fessenden/Dicke

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-07-2014
  • Case #: S061740
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Walters, J. for the Court; En Banc
  • Full Text Opinion

The seizure of a malnourished horse in plain view without a warrant was valid under both the exigent circumstances, and emergency aid exceptions to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and Article I § 9 of the Oregon Constitution.

Defendants’ neighbors reported suspected animal abuse to the sheriff’s office. A sheriff’s officer with training in investigating animal cruelty was dispatched to investigate the neighbor’s report. While driving upon defendants’ property, the officer observer a severely malnourished horse in plain view. Because the officer feared that the horse would die in the time it would take to obtain a warrant to enter the defendant’s property, the officer entered defendant’s property and brought the horse to a veterinarian, without a warrant. Defendants’ trials were consolidated, and defendants were charged with first-degree animal abuse and second-degree animal neglect respectively. Defendants moved to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the officer’s search. The trial court denied defendants’ motion to suppress, holding that the officer’s actions met both the emergency aid, and exigent circumstances exceptions to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and Article I § 9 of the Oregon Constitution. Defendants appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision, because the exigent circumstances exception extends to imminent threat to property as well as persons. The Supreme Court of Oregon affirmed the decision of the appeals and trial court, holding that the officer’s seizure of the horse was valid without a warrant under both the exigent circumstances, and emergency aid exceptions. Affirmed.

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