State v. Ritz

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-10-2017
  • Case #: SC S063292
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Baldwin, S.J. for the court; Balmer, C.J.; Kistler, J.; Walters, J.; Landau, J.; Brewer, S.J.; Baldwin, S.J.; & Tookey, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, an officers’ reasonable belief that the delay caused by obtaining a warrant will lead to loss of evidence creates an exigent circumstance allowing a warrantless search. State v. Ritz, 361 Or. 781, 795 (2017).

The State sought review seeking to affirm the Court of Appeals’ decision upholding the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, but under different reasoning. The State assigned error to the Court of Appeals’ analysis. On review, the State argued, under State v. Machuca, 347 Or 644 (2010) and State v. Mazzola, 356 Or 804 (2015), an exigent circumstance can be established “if obtaining a warrant would result in losing any evidentiary value in the BAC evidence.” Therefore, State argued that the Court of Appeals “erroneously limited exigent circumstances to those situations where obtaining a warrant would result in losing all evidentiary value in the BAC evidence.” Defendant argued that an exigency search is justified only when the law enforcement interests advanced by a warrantless search outweigh the privacy interests at stake. The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress because the record did “not establish that the officers reasonably believed, at the time that they entered defendant’s home, that obtaining a warrant would have delayed preserving evidence that was dissipating.” Reversed and remanded to Court of Appeals for further consideration.

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