This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


State of Minnesota,


Ronald Dean Davis,

Filed October 19, 1999
Reversed and remanded
Toussaint, Chief Judge

Hennepin County District Court
File No. 98075815


Mike Hatch, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103 and

Peter A. MacMillan, Mark J. Schneider, Rondoni, MacMillan & Schneider, Ltd., 505 North Highway 169, Suite 175, Minneapolis, MN 55441 (for appellant)

Sara Lynne Martin, Trudell Guerue, Legal Rights Center, Inc., 1611 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (for respondent)


Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Parker, Judge.[*]

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

The district court granted Ronald Dean Davis’s motion to suppress evidence obtained after a warrantless arrest in his home. In its pre-trial appeal, the state argues the district court erred in concluding the warrantless arrest was not justified. Because both probable cause and exigent circumstances existed, we reverse.


On July 18, 1998, Sergeant Steven Paul Holm was driving eastbound on 36th Avenue, crossing Highway 100. As Holm was travelling through the intersection, a vehicle in the northbound left-turn lane pulled up and rolled into the intersection. Holm had to take evasive action to avoid an accident. After the vehicle made a left turn, Holm made a U-turn and followed the vehicle, suspecting the driver was intoxicated. Holm used his emergency lights only to clear the intersection. As Holm followed the vehicle, it accelerated rapidly, made a quick left turn, and then an immediate right turn into a driveway.

Holm pulled into the driveway behind the vehicle blocking it because he suspected the driver was trying to evade him. He simultaneously exited his squad car as the driver exited his vehicle. Holm stated, "I need to talk to you for a minute." The driver, later identified as Ronald Dean Davis, stood there for a second then ran into the house. Holm gave pursuit. Holm called in the pursuit and other squad cars arrived. Another officer went with Holm to the front door, which was not locked. Holm pushed on the door and it opened. The officers called out to identify themselves and stated that they wanted to talk with Davis. They found Davis in his bedroom on the floor talking on the phone and arrested him.

Davis denied Holm’s version of events and testified he never rolled through the intersection, did not see the officer pull into the driveway behind his vehicle, and did not hear Holm speak to him. Davis was taken into custody and given an intoxilizer test. Davis was charged with driving while under the influence in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.121, subd. 1(a) (1998). The district court granted Davis’s motion to suppress evidence seized incident to the arrest. The state appeals this pre-trial order.


In a pre-trial appeal, this court will reverse the district court’s determination only if the state demonstrates clearly and unequivocally that: (1) the district court erred in its judgment; and (2) unless reversed, the error will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial. State v. Joon Kyu Kim, 398 N.W.2d 544, 547 (Minn. 1987). The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I of the Minnesota Constitution prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures of "persons, houses, papers and effects." U.S. Const. amend. IV.; Minn. Const. art. I., § 10. It is a basic principle of Fourth Amendment law that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable. Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586, 100 S. Ct. 1371, 1380 (1980). But a warrantless entry or search of a person’s home to make an arrest can be justified if the state meets its burden of showing either: (1) consent; or (2) probable cause and exigent circumstances. State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 222 (Minn. 1992) (citing Payton, 445 U.S. at 576, 590, 100 S. Ct. at 1374-75, 1382).

The state argues that both probable cause and exigent circumstances existed to justify Davis’s warrantless arrest inside his home. To arrest a suspect without a warrant, an officer must be guided by the whole of his police experience and must reasonably believe a crime was committed. State v. Olson, 436 N.W.2d 92, 94 (Minn. 1989) (citing State v. Merrill, 274 N.W.2d 99, 108 (Minn. 1978)). This court makes an independent review of the facts to determine the reasonableness of the police officer’s actions. Id.

Holm observed Davis roll into the intersection and took evasive action to avoid an accident. See Minn. Stat. § 169.13, subd. 2 (1998) (describing careless driving as misdemeanor). A police officer may arrest a person without a warrant when a public offense, including a misdemeanor, has been committed or attempted in the officer’s presence. Minn. Stat. 629.34, subd. 1(c)(1) (1998); Smith v. Hubbard, 253 Minn. 215, 224, 91 N.W.2d 756, 764 (1958) (including misdemeanors in definition of public offense). At the time Holm pulled into the driveway behind Davis, he had probable cause to believe Davis committed a misdemeanor.[1] See Pahlen v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 382 N.W.2d 552, 554 (Minn. App. 1986) (concluding warrantless arrest was lawful where officer observed suspect speeding and followed suspect in hot pursuit). Holm asked Davis to stop so he could speak with him. This was a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. See In re Welfare of E.D.J., 502 N.W.2d 779, 782 (Minn. 1993) (concluding that stopping vehicle and detaining occupants was seizure within meaning of Fourth Amendment). But Davis paused, then fled into his home. Holm had probable cause to believe that Davis was obstructing legal process. See Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2) (1998) (describing obstructing lawful execution of legal process as misdemeanor).

In Welsh v. Wisconsin, the United States Supreme Court found a warrantless in-home arrest unlawful where the underlying offense was not a felony and where no exigent circumstances existed. 466 U.S. 740, 750, 104 S.Ct. 2091, 2099 (1984). The court commented on the importance of considering the gravity of the underlying offense, but did not preclude in-home arrests for non-felonies. Id. at 750-53, 104 S.Ct. at 2098-99. Minnesota courts have permitted warrantless arrests in a suspect’s home for non-felonies where exigent circumstances existed. See State v. Paul, 548 N.W.2d 260, 267 (Minn. 1996) (distinguishing Welsh and permitting in-home warrantless arrest because driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense in Minnesota and exigent circumstance of hot pursuit existed); Pahlen, 382 N.W.2d at 554 (permitting in-home warrantless arrest where suspect was speeding and exigent circumstance of hot pursuit existed). Reckless driving and obstructing the lawful execution of legal process are serious offenses. When Holm asked Davis to stop, Davis responded by evading the officer, just as in State v. Koziol, where the suspect drove off in his car during a routine traffic stop. 338 N.W.2d 47, 48 (Minn. 1983) (recognizing hot pursuit where suspect was stopped for minor offense, but then fled).

"[A] suspect may not defeat an arrest which has been set in motion in a public place by the expedient of retreating to a private place." Paul, 548 N.W.2d at 264 (citing United States v. Santana, 427 U.S.38, 43, 96 S. Ct. 2406, 2410 (1976)). The doctrine of hot pursuit applies whether police engage in a high-speed chase or whether they merely approach a suspect who immediately retreats into a house. Id. at 266. Here, hot pursuit began when Davis hesitated but then fled after Holm attempted to speak with him. See Pahlen, 382 N.W.2d at 553-54 (describing hot pursuit where officer followed suspect into driveway, suspect ran from his car toward home, then paused to look back before entering home). The exigent circumstance of hot pursuit together with probable cause to believe Davis committed two serious misdemeanors justifies the warrantless arrest. Because the district court erred in its judgment and the error has the critical impact of depriving the state of essential evidence, we reverse and remand.

Reversed and remanded.

[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1] There was not, however, probable cause to indicate Davis was driving under the influence of alcohol, as the state argues. Cf. State v. Paul, 548 N.W.2d 264, 266 (Minn. 1996) (affirming warrantless arrest because probable cause existed where officer observed suspect had slurred speech, watery eyes, and difficulty standing and also observed various driving errors while following suspect).