State v. Unger

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-28-2014
  • Case #: S060888
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Balmer, C.J. for the Court; En Banc; Landau, J., concurred; Walters, J., Brewer, J., & Baldwin, J., dissented.
  • Full Text Opinion

A defendant's voluntary consent to search, following unlawful police conduct, may nevertheless require suppression of evidence obtained during the search if the police exploited their unlawful conduct to gain that consent. In exploitation analysis, Courts must consider the totality of the circumstances including the nature of the illegal conduct, as well as its purpose and flagrancy, without unduly emphasizing any single consideration.

The State petitioned for review of the Court of Appeals decision to reverse and remand this case. The Sheriff’s Office received information regarding drug activity at Defendant’s residence. Officer’s contacted Defendant at his residence and received verbal consent from Defendant to search the residence. Officer’s found a piece of a bag containing a white powder, which tested positive for methamphetamine. Defendant was arrested. At trial, Defendant argued the Officer’s entry into the residence through the backyard was unlawful and moved to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of that entry. The trial court denied the motion and Defendant was convicted. Defendant appealed the decision and the Court of Appeals, applying the Hall test, which reversed and remanded. The Court decided whether, based on the theory of consent obtained by exploitation of a prior illegality, evidence discovered after voluntary consent to search must be suppressed. The Court first renounced the “minimal factual nexus” prong of the Hall test and instead held that once a defendant has established that an illegal stop or search occurred and challenges the validity of his or her consent, the burden shifts to the state to demonstrate (1) the consent was voluntary, and (2) the voluntary consent was not the product of police exploitation. The Court also held that Hall erred in focusing only on the “temporal proximity” of the exploitation prong. Instead, the exploitation prong should focus on the totality of the circumstances. Reversed and remanded to the Court of Appeals.

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