may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. §480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Clifford Earl Smith,
Filed December 22, 1998
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 97032102
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Scott G. Swanson, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
Appellant argues that his conviction for felon in possession of a firearm was based on inadmissible evidence and as a result should be reversed. Because we do not find a Miranda violation, we affirm.
NARCOTIC DRUGS AND CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO METHAMPHETAMINES. ALSO DRUG PARAPHERNALIA, MONIES FROM ILLEGAL SALES OF THESE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES, WEIGHING AND PACKAGING MATERIALS, DRUG NOTES, CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES, FIREARMS, AMMUNITION, AND OTHER WEAPONS TO PROTECT THE SALES OPERATION, SAFES, RADIO AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICES TO FACILITATE NARCOTICS SALES.
In executing the warrant, police knocked on the front door and appellant answered. The officer who had applied for the search warrant asked appellant if there were any weapons present. Appellant responded that a shotgun was in the bedroom. After securing the residence, the officer read appellant his Miranda rights. Appellant, after waiving his rights, explained that he possessed a loaded shotgun.
Appellant was charged with felon in possession of a firearm in violation of Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(b) (1996). At the Rasmussen hearing, appellant objected to the inclusion of the pre-Miranda questioning, arguing that appellant was in custody at the time. In addition, appellant requested that the post-Miranda confession and the shotgun be suppressed as products of an illegal search. Without providing an explanation, the court concluded that the evidence would not be suppressed.
After a jury trial, appellant, who had a prior felony record, was convicted of the crime of felon in possession and sentenced to 18 months in prison. On appeal, appellant argues that the evidence from both the pre- and post-Miranda statements and the shotgun should have been suppressed at trial.
The first question on appeal is whether the police should have given appellant a Miranda warning before asking about the presence of weapons. A Miranda warning is required when a police officer conducts a custodial interrogation of a suspect. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 1612 (1966). In determining whether a suspect was "in custody" requiring a Miranda warning, the analysis begins with whether the suspect's freedom of action was restrained. Id. If no arrest was made, then a court must consider all of the "surrounding circumstances to determine whether the restraints on the defendant's freedom were comparable to those associated with a formal arrest." Hince, 540 N.W.2d at 823 (citations omitted).
Appellant claims that he was in custody when, at his door, he first answered the police officer's question as to weapons. The Minnesota Supreme Court has explained that the test for whether an individual is in custody is an objective one: "it is whether a reasonable person in the detainee's situation would have understood that he was in custody." See id. Appellant argues that a custodial-interrogation finding is mandated by (1) the presence of several armed police officers at appellant's door, (2) with a search warrant in hand, and (3) that appellant, according to police testimony at the Rasmussen hearing, was not free to leave. However, Minnesota law does not support appellant's position.
As a question of law, we hold that appellant could not have reasonably believed himself to be in custody when the officer questioned him at the door. In State v. Larson, 346 N.W.2d 199, 201 (Minn. App. 1984), this court held that the interrogation of a detainee at his residence, in the presence of uniformed officers, was not enough of a restraint on an individual's freedom of movement to require a Miranda warning.
Any interview of one suspected of a crime by a police officer will have coercive aspects to it, simply by virtue of the fact that the police officer is part of a law enforcement system which may ultimately cause the suspect to be charged with a crime.
Id. (citation omitted). Furthermore, the supreme court rejected the test of whether a reasonable person would believe he or she was not free to leave. State v. Champion, 533 N.W.2d 40, 43 (Minn. 1995). The Champion court explained that the reasonable person standard includes an inquiry into whether a reasonable person under the circumstances would believe whether he or she "was in police custody of the degree associated with formal arrest." Id. In the present case, despite appellant's arguments, an objective analysis reveals no evidence demonstrating the coercive aspects of a formal arrest and interrogation, which underlie the principles of Miranda. See id. Appellant's first inculpatory statement was therefore admissible. As a further result, appellant's subsequent taped confession and the shotgun were also properly admitted.
Nonetheless, even if the initial inculpatory statement were inadmissible, the subsequent confession and shotgun were admissible. In Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 487, 83 S. Ct. 407, 417 (1963) the Supreme Court extended the exclusionary rule to evidence that was the indirect product or "fruit" of unlawful police conduct. Appellant argues that the evidence of the shotgun and appellant's taped confession were not sufficiently purged of the hypothetical primary Miranda violation.
The shotgun is admissible because the weapon would have inevitably been discovered. In Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, 444, 104 S. Ct. 2501, 2509 (1984), the Supreme Court articulated that Wong Sun's exclusionary rule does not exclude evidence obtainable by an independent source.
If the prosecution can establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the information ultimately or inevitably would have been discovered by lawful means * * * then the deterrence rationale has so little basis that the evidence should be received.
Id. The Minnesota Supreme Court has explained that, even if an affidavit has not technically established probable cause to believe that guns would be present during the execution of a search warrant, as a practical matter, "searching for these items * * * does not require any greater intrusion than is already necessitated by the search for the described substances" and that, "even without authority to search for such items, the police are justified in seizing them when they come upon them in a lawful warranted search for drugs." State v. Kochendorfer, 304 N.W.2d 336, 338 (Minn. 1981). In the present case, the shotgun was propped up against the wall in the bedroom. The police had a warrant to search the entire premises. Further, the warrant specifically identified firearms. We believe that the police officers would inevitably have found the weapon in executing the search warrant and the inevitable discovery rule permits the admission of the shotgun into evidence.
Appellant's confession is also admissible. The United States Supreme Court has directed that courts avoid establishing rigid exclusionary rules as to subsequent voluntary and informed confessions, explaining that the relevant inquiry should focus on when subsequent statements were voluntarily made. Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 318, 105 S. Ct. 1285, 1297-98 (1985). The Minnesota Supreme Court has held that a failure to give a required Miranda warning, by itself, does not render involuntary and thus inadmissible any subsequent statement made after giving a Miranda warning. Champion, 533 N.W.2d at 44; accord State v. Scott, 584 N.W.2d 412, 419 (Minn. 1998).
A reviewing court independently determining whether a confession or statement was involuntary or coerced must consider all relevant factors including "age, maturity, intelligence, education, experience, ability to comprehend, lack of or adequacy of warnings, length and legality of detention, nature of interrogation, physical deprivations, [and] limits on access to counsel and friends." State v. Patricelli, 357 N.W.2d 89, 92 (Minn. 1984) (quoting State v. Linder, 268 N.W.2d 734, 735 (Minn. 1978)). While the trial court did not explicitly document its analysis of these factors, evidence admitted at the hearing demonstrates that appellant properly waived his Miranda rights after receiving an adequate Miranda warning. As a result, the subsequent confession was properly admitted.