County Circuit Court 14CR09323; Daniel R. Murphy, Judge.
and submitted April 26, 2016
Snyder, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for
appellant. With her on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief
Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense
G. Howe, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for
respondent. With her on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum,
Attorney General, and Paul L. Smith, Deputy Solicitor
Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Judge, and Shorr,
Summary: Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for
delivery of methamphetamine and assigns error to the trial
court's denial of her motion to suppress evidence
resulting from a warrantless search of her vehicle. She
asserts that the search was not justified by the automobile
exception to the warrant requirement of Article I, section 9,
of the Oregon Constitution because her vehicle was not mobile
when the officer encountered it in connection with a crime.
The state responds that the vehicle was mobile for purposes
of the automobile exception. Held: The relevant
encounter occurred when the officer observed defendant and
her vehicle and developed reasonable suspicion that defendant
was engaging in drug activity. Because the officer had
observed defendant driving the vehicle by the time he had
reasonable suspicion, it was clear that the vehicle was
mobile. Furthermore, although the vehicle was not moving and
defendant was standing beside it by the time the officer
stopped her, the trial court reasonably could have found that
defendant stopped her car to complete a drug transaction
before [287 Or. 799] resuming her trip. Under the
circumstances, when the officer stopped defendant, the
vehicle was mobile for purposes of the automobile exception.
Or. 800] Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for
delivery of methamphetamine, ORS 475.890, and assigns error
to the trial court's denial of her motion to suppress
evidence resulting from a warrantless search of her vehicle.
She asserts that the search was not justified by the
automobile exception to the warrant requirement of Article I,
section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, because her vehicle
was not mobile when the officer encountered it in connection
with a crime. We conclude that the search was lawful under
the automobile exception and, therefore, affirm.
reviewing the trial court's ruling on a motion to
suppress, we view the facts consistently with the trial
court's findings and decision on the motion. State v.
Meharry, 342 Or. 173, 175, 149 P.3d 1155 (2006). In this
case, the relevant facts are undisputed. At 12:50 a.m., on
June 11, 2014, Davis, a City of Albany police officer, was
patrolling Jack's Truck Stop, which is known for high
levels of drug trafficking and prostitution. Davis noticed
defendant's vehicle, a newer Mercedes SUV, in the parking
lot; defendant, another woman, and a male bicyclist were all
standing immediately outside the vehicle. The other woman and
the man both appeared to Davis to be transient drug users.
turned his patrol car around and parked so that he could
observe defendant and her companions. As he did so, Davis
observed the male cyclist hurriedly ride away. Defendant and
the other woman got into the SUV and drove over to the fuel
island at Jack's. While the vehicle was at the fuel
island, Davis drove his patrol car around Jack's and ran
the license plates on the SUV; he learned that defendant was
the SUV's registered owner and that she lived in Salem.
According to Davis, Salem is the primary source of the
methamphetamine and heroin sold in Albany. A criminal history
check of defendant revealed that she was on supervision for
unlawful delivery of methamphetamine and that she had a
number of drug-related convictions.
few minutes, defendant drove the SUV from the fuel island
back to the same area where it had originally been parked.
Defendant and the other woman got out of the vehicle and
walked up to the driver's side window of another [287 Or.
801] vehicle that had pulled in and parked right next to the
SUV. Davis recognized the driver of the newly arrived vehicle
as Morton. Morton, who had a prior drug conviction and
multiple prior contacts with police relating to drugs, did
not get out of his vehicle to go into the convenience store,
nor did he pull up to get gas at the fuel island.
pulled his patrol car up and parked approximately 20 feet
from defendant's SUV. He got out and approached defendant
and Morton, who stopped their conversation when they noticed
him. Morton announced that he needed to go to Walmart, and
drove away. Davis began a conversation with defendant, who
admitted not knowing the name of the other woman who was with
her. Davis, however, recognized the woman as someone he had
met on previous occasions, and who had admitted to using
metham-phetamine in the recent past. After Davis told
defendant that he was concerned that she was engaged in drug
activity, defendant told him that she had recently left a
drug-treatment facility and that she had just been released
from a jail term she had been serving for a probation
violation. Davis requested, and defendant gave, consent to
search her purse. Aside from some wadded up cash, Davis found
nothing notable in the purse. Davis then requested
defendant's consent to search her vehicle, which she
who was a canine handler, then deployed his police dog to
sniff around defendant's vehicle for drugs. The dog
alerted twice on defendant's SUV to the presence of
drugs. Davis then conducted a warrantless search of
defendant's vehicle and found large amounts of illegal
drugs and cash, as well as weapons. Davis arrested defendant,
and she was charged with multiple drug and weapons offenses.
filed a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence discovered
during the warrantless search of her vehicle. The state
argued that the warrantless search was permitted under the
automobile exception to the search warrant requirement, and
the trial court agreed and denied defendant's motion.
Defendant then entered a conditional no-contest plea to and,