STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Gustavo Dion Saucedo,
Filed February 10, 1998
Kandiyohi County District Court
File No. K1-96-1461
Boyd A. Beccue, Kandiyohi County Attorney, 316 S.W. Fourth Street, Willmar, MN 56201 (for respondent)
Sergio R. Andrade, 2660 Boudreau Court, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076; and
Kyle D. White, 600 Capital Centre, 386 North Wabasha Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Foley, Judge.*
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Appellant challenges his convictions of controlled substance crime in the first and fifth degree, arguing the trial court erred in refusing to suppress the evidence. The record supports the trial court's findings. We affirm.
Appellant's vehicle was eventually towed from the scene to a secure impound lot. Officer Vasquez searched appellant's vehicle and discovered a duffel bag containing marijuana. Vasquez also recovered two plastic bags containing methamphetamines, as well as appellant's driver's license. Finally, a search of the glove compartment revealed a small personal notebook with handwritten entries that appeared to correspond with the weight of marijuana.
Forensic scientists at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirmed that the substance recovered from appellant's duffel bag was marijuana, totaling 436 grams. In addition, the off-white substance seized from appellant's person and from his duffel bag totaled 54.9 grams of methamphetamine.
At the omnibus hearing, appellant challenged the search of his person, the search of his vehicle, and the taking of his statements. Following the hearing, the trial court found admissible the physical evidence recovered from appellant's person and his vehicle, and the statements appellant made to police. Appellant then waived his right to a jury trial and was tried by the court on stipulated facts. The trial court found appellant guilty of possession of a felony amount of methamphetamines with intent to sell or distribute and possession of a felony amount of marijuana.
In Fourth Amendment challenges where the facts are undisputed, such as they are in this case, this court independently reviews the record and determines, as a matter of law, whether the police action was justified. State v. Hanson, 488 N.W.2d 511, 512 (Minn. App. 1992).
Appellant argues the search was unlawful because Deputy Kveene should have issued him a citation instead of arresting him. We disagree. Simply because officers do not have grounds to custodially arrest a defendant does not mean they are prohibited from conducting an otherwise lawful search. State v. Hanson, 364 N.W.2d 786, 789 (Minn. 1985) (citing Minn. R. Crim. P. 6.01, subd. 4). In such a situation, the search must be justified on other legal grounds. Id. Such legal grounds include probable cause to believe appellant possessed more marijuana. See State v. Evans, 373 N.W.2d 836, 838 (Minn. App. 1985) (officers contended situation gave rise to probable cause that defendant possessed large quantity of marijuana), review denied (Minn. Nov. 1, 1985). Probable cause is determined by objective facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been committed. Id. The odor of marijuana emanating from an automobile is enough to establish probable cause. State v. Hodgman, 257 N.W.2d 313, 315 (Minn. 1977) (once officer smelled marijuana, he had probable cause to arrest driver and conduct full search of both driver and car).
According to this line of reasoning, Deputy Kveene had probable cause to search appellant. The deputies in this case smelled a strong scent of marijuana coming from appellant's vehicle. In fact, the driver of the vehicle admitted that she and appellant had been smoking marijuana. Most significantly, Deputy Kveene recovered a marijuana cigarette just below appellant's passenger-side window. Based on these facts, Deputy Kveene clearly possessed probable cause to believe that appellant had committed a crime.
That probable cause also justified the officers' warrantless search of the automobile. See State v. Hiler, 376 N.W.2d 760, 762 (Minn. App. 1985) (officers are justified in searching vehicle without warrant if they have probable cause to believe that vehicle contains evidence of crime) (citing Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42, 50-51, 90 S. Ct. 1975, 1980-81 (1970)); State v. Schinzing, 342 N.W.2d 105, 110 (Minn. 1983) (discovery of marijuana gives officer probable cause to believe he will find marijuana elsewhere in vehicle).
Given the girlfriend's admission that she and appellant had been smoking marijuana, coupled with the marijuana cigarette found outside the window, the officers here were allowed to search anywhere in the vehicle where they might have expected to find more marijuana. Schinzing, 342 N.W.2d at 110. This includes the truck as well as the glove compartment. See Hanson, 364 N.W.2d at 789 (allowing search of trunk); State v. Veigel, 304 N.W.2d 900, 901 (Minn. 1981) (allowing search of locked glove compartment). In light of the stipulated facts here, Officer Vasquez was justified in searching the "cargo" area of the vehicle, as well as the glove compartment. It was logical to assume that a proper place to hide illegal substances was in a duffel bag or glove compartment.
Probable cause existed to search both appellant and his vehicle. The trial court did not err in admitting the 1.1 grams of methamphetamine discovered in defendant's pants pocket or the evidence recovered from appellant's automobile.
2. Miranda Warning
Next, appellant argues that the statements he made to Deputy Kveene while riding in the squad car should be suppressed because he was not read his Miranda rights. On review, this court must affirm the trial court's decision unless the trial court clearly erred and that error will directly affect the outcome of the trial. State v. Lynch, 477 N.W.2d 743, 745 (Minn. App. 1991).
Miranda requires both custody and interrogation before statements will be suppressed. State v. Seekon, 392 N.W.2d 624, 627 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Oct. 17, 1986). The United States Supreme Court has expressly recognized that not all statements obtained by police from an in-custody defendant are to be considered the product of interrogation. Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 299, 100 S. Ct. 1682, 1689 (1980). For instance, a defendant is not "interrogated" in violation of his Miranda rights when the defendant initiates the conversation in question. State v. Jackson, 351 N.W.2d 352, 355 (Minn. 1984). Even though a conversation might result in incriminating statements, it does not rise to the level of custodial interrogation when the defendant's comments are conversational and invite a response. Id.
In this case, appellant was not "interrogated" for Miranda purposes because Deputy Kveene never initiated a conversation with him. Rather, it was appellant who initially asked if he was being arrested and why. It was appellant who asked if he could work for the task force. Finally, it was appellant who told Kveene that he found the methamphetamines in a gravel pit. All of these statements invited a response from Deputy Kveene. Consequently, even though this conversation resulted in seemingly incriminating statements by appellant, it did not rise to the level of custodial interrogation. Id.; cf. Lynch, 477 N.W.2d at 746 (defining interrogation as officers' express questioning that they should know will elicit incriminating response). Since Kveene did not directly or indirectly elicit information from appellant, no Miranda violation occurred here. Therefore, the trial court did not err in admitting the statements into evidence.
3. Sufficiency of the Evidence
Appellant contends the evidence does not support a finding that he possessed the methamphetamine with the intent to sell or distribute. When this court reviews claims based on sufficiency of the evidence, it must determine, based on facts in the record and any reasonable inferences that could be drawn from them, whether it was reasonable to find the defendant guilty of the charged offense. State v. Race, 383 N.W.2d 656, 661 (Minn. 1986).
Intent to sell or distribute is generally proven by circumstantial evidence. State v. White, 332 N.W.2d 910, 912 (Minn. 1983). Evidence tending to prove intent to sell includes the amount of drugs recovered, the manner of packaging, the defendant's statements at the time of the act, and other evidence. See id. (holding intent to sell was proven by large amount of marijuana possessed by defendant); State v. Whisonant, 331 N.W.2d 766, 768 (Minn. 1983) (finding intent to sell based on defendant's conduct and statements); State v. Collard, 414 N.W.2d 733, 736 (Minn. App. 1987) (calling quantity of drugs seized "primary consideration" in determining intent), review denied (Minn. Jan. 15, 1988).
Despite appellant's argument, an alarming amount of circumstantial evidence proves he possessed the requisite intent to sell and distribute the controlled substances. First, the sheer volume of drugs found in appellant's possession suggests that the goal was distribution. This substantial quantity of drugs was far more than appellant could consume for his personal use. Furthermore, the packaging of the methamphetamine in three large, pleated-top plastic sandwich bags, was inconsistent with typical packaging for personal use. The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence is that appellant intended to sell and distribute the drugs.
In addition, the state's narcotic's expert testified concerning the physical evidence against appellant, appellant's intended use, and appellant's affiliation with known drug dealers. Because the expert's testimony was helpful and essential to the trier of fact, it is admissible. State v. Myers, 359 N.W.2d 604, 609 (Minn. 1984); Minn. R. Evid. 702. Based on this evidence, the trial court did not err in finding appellant possessed the methamphetamine with intent to sell.
 Appellant argues that the search at the impound lot was improper because it occurred several hours after the arrest. However, when probable cause exists to search a vehicle, police may conduct a warrantless search either at the site of the stop or after the vehicle has been towed and impounded. State v. Ludtke, 306 N.W.2d 111, 114 (Minn. 1981).