from the District Court of Mercer County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.
Jessica J. Binder, Mercer County State's Attorney,
Stanton, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.
M. Morrow, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellant.
VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
1] Memory Bell appealed a district court's judgment after
entering a conditional plea of guilty to the charges of
possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug
paraphernalia, and ingesting a controlled substance. Bell
argues law enforcement impermissibly extended the traffic
stop to allow enough time to have a drug-detecting dog come
to the scene and perform a drug sniff. Because Bell failed to
present evidence she was detained when officers performed the
drug sniff, we affirm.
2] On October 19, 2016, law enforcement stopped a vehicle for
failing to operate with headlights during the evening hours.
Prior to initiating a traffic stop, Officer Benjamin Newman
observed another vehicle attempt to signal the subject
vehicle that its lights were off, but the vehicle did not
engage its headlights. There were three people in the
vehicle: the driver -- Taisha Solvie, the defendant -- Memory
Bell, and a male passenger in the backseat. During the
traffic stop, Solvie provided a false name to Officer Newman.
Upon discovery of Solvie's true identity, Officer Newman
found there was an outstanding warrant for her. Officer
Newman also learned Solvie and the backseat passenger were on
probation for controlled-substance offenses.
3] Because of the headlight violation, Officer Newman decided
to issue a written warning. While issuing the warning,
Officer Newman requested the assistance of a drug-detecting
dog, which arrived within five minutes of the request. Upon
arriving at the traffic stop, the drug-detecting dog
indicated on the vehicle. The vehicle was subsequently
searched and methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were
4] Bell was charged with possession of methamphetamine,
possession of drug paraphernalia and ingesting a controlled
substance. Bell moved to suppress the evidence obtained
through the search of the vehicle. The district court denied
5] On appeal, Bell argues: (1) she was unreasonably detained
beyond the time required for the initial traffic stop and (2)
the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion of criminal
activity to justify her continued detention.
6] In reviewing a district court's decision to grant or
deny a motion to suppress:
This Court defers to the district court's findings of
fact and resolves conflicts in testimony in favor of
affirmance. This Court will affirm a district court decision
regarding a motion to suppress if there is sufficient
competent evidence fairly capable of supporting the district
court's findings, and the decision is not contrary to the
manifest weight of the evidence. Questions of law are fully
reviewable on appeal, and whether a finding of fact meets a
legal standard is a question of law.
State v. Nguyen, 2013 ND 252, ¶ 7, 841 N.W.2d
676 (quoting State v. Morin, 2012 ND 75, ¶ 5,