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State v. Currin

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-02-2013
Case #: A148700
Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148700.pdf

Criminal Procedure: A plain, white envelope does not intrinsically suggest that it contains contraband, and therefore the plain-view doctrine requirement that in item's incriminating character be immediately apparent is not met.

Defendant appeals her conviction for one count of delivery of methamphetamine. Defendant was arrested after police searched an envelope in the Defendant's truck without consent. Defendant admitted what the envelope contained after the officer stated, "you and I both know that I'm probably going to find out what's in here anyway, so why don't you just be honest about it."  Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to suppress drugs found in the plain white envelope and the statements made to police when questioned about the envelope’s contents. The State argued that the search was proper under the plain-view doctrine. The Court of Appeals held that, under the totality of the circumstances, the officer’s belief that the envelope contained contraband was not objectively reasonable because a plain white envelope does not intrinsically suggest that it contains contraband.  The Court further held that suppression was proper because Defendant established a "minimal factual nexus" between the unlawful seizure and the discovery of the evidence.  The State did not attempt to meet its burden of proving that the statements made concerning the evidence were not derived from the "preceding illegality."  As such, the statements should have been suppressed.  Reversed and remanded.