People v. Smock, 2018 IL App (5th) 140449 (April). Episode 489 (Duration 7:09)
Defendant is getting arrested for disorderly conduct when recedes further into his house to prevent arrest, police follow him in and arrest him.
Police were responding to a noise complaint at a trailer park. Defendant gets arrested for Disorderly Conduct.
A jury found the defendant guilty of possession of methamphetamine and disorderly conduct. He got 5 years.
The complainant indicated that someone inside the trailer next door was banging on its walls, while yelling and cursing.
As the officers were speaking, they too were able to hear the noise coming from inside the trailer. The complainant agreed to sign a complaint for discorderly conduct because this was not the first time the police had been called out.
The officers proceeded next door to the defendant’s residence to arrest him for disorderly conduct.
Originally, defendant refused to come outside when police knocked on the defendant’s door. The officers assured the defendant that they just needed to talk to him.
The defendant testified that when the officers knocked on his front door, he told them three times not to enter his house without a warrant. He assured the police officers he “would cease and desist as far as the noise was concerned.”
The officers told the defendant they would not enter his home.
The Old Standing In The Doorway Ruse
Nevertheless, when he opened the door, an officer informed the defendant that he was under arrest and reached out to grab the defendant by the hand.
The door opened outwards and the officer stepped in front of it so it could not be closed.
Defendant was asked to come outside. That’s when he told the police he wasn’t coming outside.
He told them 3 times not to come into his house without a warrant.
Then It Got Physical
The defendant then testified that when the officer reached out to grab him, he ran inside his trailer. The defendant stated that when he ran,
“They chased me from my porch into my living room.”
One of the officers tazed the defendant in his living room before placing him under arrest.
Little Taser Action
When they entered the kitchen area, the defendant threatened an officer with a two-liter plastic bottle.
That’s when they tased him.
The officers then placed the defendant under arrest.
Controlled Substance Discovered
A search of the defendant’s person incident to his arrest yielded a hypodermic needle and a wadded-up coffee filter that ultimately proved to contain a small amount of methamphetamine.
Constitution Protects The Home
The chief evil against which the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution is directed is the physical entry into the home. People v. Wear, 229 Ill. 2d 545, 562 (2008). To protect against the unjustified entry by law enforcement into the home, the fourth amendment has “drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house.” Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 590 (1980); People v. Davis, 398 Ill. App. 3d 940, 948 (2010).
Thus, the warrantless entry by police officers into a home and seizures inside the home are presumptively unreasonable under the fourth amendment, even with probable cause. Wear, 229 Ill. 2d at 562. Police need a warrant to cross the threshold of a private citizen’s home, unless exigent circumstances justify the intrusion.
“Hot pursuit” doctrine says a person cannot defeat a public arrest simply by retreating to the safety of their home. See United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38, 42 (1976) (women standing at the threshold of her apartment vestibule was getting arrested for drug dealing retreated further into the apartment building). See also People v. Wear, 229 Ill. 2d 545, 562 (2008) (another case with a defendant making it to his home after police started following him for a DUI arrest).
The case sub judice is distinguishable from both Santana and Wear. This was not a “hot pursuit” case.
Not A Public Arrest
In this case, the pursuit of the defendant did not originate in a public place. The defendant and both of the officers testified that the defendant never left the confines of his home. Additionally, there was no testimony describing the degree to which the defendant was exposed to public view, speech, hearing, and touch once he opened the door of his trailer.
Unlike Wear, this is not a case where the officers were in “hot pursuit” when they knocked on the defendant’s door. And there are no facts similar to Santana, where the suspect was in public view as the police were approaching the house and the officers saw that she was holding a brown bag suspected to contain heroin.
In this case, the chase of the defendant began only after he was assured by the officers, as they spoke to the defendant through his closed door, that they were not there to arrest him. It is apparent that the officers only made these statements to convince the defendant to open his door. Once the door was opened, the officer attempted to grab the defendant through the doorway to effectuate the arrest. Only then did the alleged “hot pursuit” begin.
In reviewing the propriety of a warrantless entry into a private residence under claimed exigent circumstances, the guiding principle is reasonableness. The following is a nonexhaustive list of factors that a reviewing court may consider to help determine whether the police acted reasonably, given the totality of the circumstances at the time of the warrantless entry:
(1) whether the offense under investigation was recently committed;
(2) whether there was any deliberate or unjustifiable delay by the officers during which time a warrant could have been obtained;
(3) whether a grave offense is involved, particularly one of violence;
(4) whether the suspect was reasonably believed to be armed;
(5) whether the police officers were acting upon a clear showing of probable cause;
(6) whether there was a likelihood that the suspect would have escaped if not swiftly apprehended;
(7) whether there was strong reason to believe that the suspect was on the premises; and
(8) whether the police entry, though nonconsensual, was made peaceably.
The questions are whether the officers acted reasonably and whether the circumstances militated against delay such as to justify the intrusion into the defendant’s trailer.
In this case, the entry into the defendant’s home was neither peaceable nor consensual.
Factors In Favor
While it is true that the defendant’s arrest occurred in close proximity to the commission of the misdemeanor offense, that the officers did not engage in any unjustifiable delay in their arrest of the defendant, that the police officers had probable cause to arrest the defendant, and that the officers knew the defendant was in his trailer, we are not persuaded that, without more, the officers’ warrantless intrusion was justified.
Rather than procuring a warrant, the officers proceeded directly from their meeting with Reed to the defendant’s residence in order to arrest him for disorderly conduct.
The Class C misdemeanor of disorderly conduct is neither a grave offense nor a crime of violence.
There was clearly reason to believe the defendant was on the premises, but there was no reason to believe that he possessed any weapons, posed a threat of current danger, or was a flight risk. The circumstances indicate that the defendant was not going to evade his arrest by leaving the area where he resided. There is simply nothing in the record that indicates why the slight delay involved in obtaining an arrest warrant for the defendant would have impeded the officers’ investigation of the offense or the ultimate apprehension of the defendant.
The State offered no evidence that the defendant had a violent criminal background or that he was likely to flee unless apprehended immediately. Likewise, at the time the officers entered the defendant’s home, they did not know that there was a substantial risk that evidence, the methamphetamine, would be lost.
Didn’t Need To Arrest Him
They were at the defendant’s trailer to arrest him for the misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct. In fact, they could have simply handed him the ticket, with an appearance date, and left. Instead, the officers crossed the threshold of the defendant’s home and chased him into his kitchen.
We find there was insufficient evidence to show the existence of exigent circumstances to justify the warrantless entry into the defendant’s trailer to effectuate his arrest.
We find that the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress was against the manifest weight of the evidence and that the defendant’s motion to suppress should have been granted.
Reversed and remanded.