from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.
M. Vaagen, Assistant State's Attorney, Burleigh County
State's Attorney, for plaintiff and appellant.
William R. Thomason, for defendant and appellee.
1] The State appeals from a district court order granting
Jeremy Kaul's motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.
2] On March 18, 2015, officers executed a probation search at
the residence of Keirsten Thomas. While speaking with
officers, Thomas indicated some paint in the home belonged to
Jeremy Kaul. As officers continued their search, officers
heard movement of the door handle. The door to the residence
had been locked after the officers entered and commenced the
probation search. Hearing the noise, an officer opened the
door to see Kaul standing in the doorway. The officer
identified himself and told Kaul he was going to be detained
because they were doing a probation search. Kaul entered the
apartment and officers spoke with him and asked for consent
to search his person and vehicle. Kaul consented to both and
officers searched his person and vehicle, but did not find
any contraband. Kaul was asked to consent to a search of his
backpack which he refused. Officers requested a K-9 unit to
conduct a sniff of Kaul's backpack because he was acting
"extremely nervous," and the officer knew Kaul to
be a "methamphetamine user, [and] a marijuana
user." Roughly fifteen minutes later, the K-9 unit
arrived and the dog alerted on Kaul's backpack. Kaul was
asked for consent to search his backpack again, and he again
refused. Officers seized the backpack, told Kaul he could
leave, and Kaul left. Officers applied for and were granted a
search warrant for Kaul's backpack. Officers found
methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in Kaul's backpack
when they executed the search warrant.
3] Kaul was charged with possession of methamphetamine, two
counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of
a controlled substance. Kaul filed a motion to suppress
evidence, and the State opposed the motion. The district
court held a hearing on the suppression motion at which an
officer testified. After both parties questioned the officer,
the district court asked several of its own questions. After
post-hearing briefs, the district court granted Kaul's
motion to suppress. The State appealed.
4] On appeal, the State argues the district court erred by
granting Kaul's motion to suppress evidence. The Fourth
Amendment to the United States Constitution, applicable to
the states under the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I,
section 8, of the North Dakota Constitution, protect
individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.
State v. Matthews, 2003 ND 108, ¶ 9, 665 N.W.2d
5] This Court reviews a district court's decision on a
motion to suppress as follows:
[W]e give deference to the district court's findings of
fact and we resolve conflicts in testimony in favor of
affirmance. State v. Tognotti, 2003 ND 99, ¶ 5,
663 N.W.2d 642. We "will not reverse a district court
decision on a motion to suppress... if there is sufficient
competent evidence capable of supporting the court's
findings, and if the decision is not contrary to the manifest
weight of the evidence." State v. Gefroh, 2011
ND 153, ¶ 7, 801 N.W.2d 429. Questions of law are fully
reviewable on appeal, and whether a finding of fact meets a
legal standard is a question of law. Id.
State v. Reis, 2014 ND 30, ¶ 8, 842 N.W.2d 845.
Whether law enforcement violated constitutional prohibitions
against unreasonable search and seizure is a question of law.
State v. Uran, 2008 ND 223, ¶ 5, 758 N.W.2d
6] Neither party disputes Kaul was seized immediately after
coming into contact with officers. The parties dispute
whether the seizure was unreasonable under the Fourth
Amendment. The United States Supreme Court has stated,
"the general rule [is] that Fourth Amendment seizures
are reasonable only if based on probable cause to believe
that the individual has committed a crime." Bailey
v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 1031, 1037 (2013). The State
contends Kaul's seizure was lawful based on an exception
to this general rule. The State relies upon the United States