Hubbard County District Court File No. 29-CR-11-638
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Donovan D. Dearstyne, Hubbard County Attorney, Erika C. H. Randall, Assistant County Attorney, Park Rapids, Minnesota (for respondent)
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Bridget K. Sabo, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Larkin, Judge.
Appellant argues that the district court erred by refusing to suppress evidence discovered during the unconstitutional search of his vehicle. Because we conclude that appellant consented to the search, we affirm.
Following a stipulated-facts proceeding, the district court found appellant Martin William Klasen guilty of third-degree controlled-substance crime, driving after revocation, failure to provide proof of insurance, and possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle. Appellant argues that the district court erred in its pretrial ruling by refusing to suppress the evidence discovered during the alleged unconstitutional search of his vehicle.
When reviewing a district court's decision on a motion to suppress evidence, we independently review the facts and determine whether, as a matter of law, the district court erred by not suppressing the evidence. State v. Harris, 590 N.W.2d 90, 98 (Minn. 1999). The validity of a search or seizure is a question of law, which is reviewed de novo. State v. Bauman, 586 N.W.2d 416, 419 (Minn.App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Jan. 27, 1999).
The United States and Minnesota Constitutions guarantee the right to be free from "unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10. Evidence resulting from an unreasonable search and seizure must be excluded. See State v. Wiggins, 788 N.W.2d 509, 512 (Minn.App. 2010) (stating that evidence seized in violation of the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures "generally must be suppressed"), review denied (Minn. Nov. 23, 2010).
Appellant admits that Deputy Adam Williams justifiably initiated a traffic stop after observing a broken taillight on appellant's vehicle. But he claims that the deputy unreasonably expanded the scope of the stop beyond its original purpose based solely on appellant's probationary status.
Minnesota courts evaluate the reasonableness of searches and seizures conducted during traffic stops using the inquiry established in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868 (1968). State v. Askerooth, 681 N.W.2d. 353, 363 (Minn. 2004). A Terry analysis is twofold: "[f]irst, we ask whether the stop was justified at its inception. . . . [s]econd, we ask whether the actions of the police during the stop were reasonably related to and justified by the circumstances that gave rise to the stop in the first place." Id. at 364 (citations omitted). "An initially valid stop may become invalid if it becomes intolerable in its intensity or scope." Id. (quotations omitted).
An extended traffic stop and search is reasonable "as long as each incremental intrusion during the stop is tied to and justified by one of the following: (1) the original legitimate purpose of the stop, (2) independent probable cause, or (3) reasonableness, as defined in Terry." State v. Smith, 814 N.W.2d 346, 350 (Minn. 2012) (quotation omitted). "To be reasonable, the basis of the officer's ...