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State v. Hyde

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 31, 2017

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
Floyd Erik Hyde, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Todd L. Cresap, Judge.

          Ashley K. Schell, Assistant State's Attorney, Minot, N.D., for plaintiff and appellee.

          Kyle R. Craig, Minot, N.D., for defendant and appellant.


          TUFTE, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Floyd Hyde appeals a criminal judgment after entering a conditional plea of guilty to three drug charges. In his plea, Hyde reserved his right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence. Hyde argues the district court erred in finding the warrantless entry of his home fell within the emergency exception to the warrant requirement. We reverse and remand to allow him to withdraw his plea.


         [¶ 2] Two Ward County deputies entered Hyde's residence in response to a report that he may be suicidal. At the time of their warrantless entry into Hyde's residence, the information available to the deputies included the following facts, about which there are no material conflicts in testimony. At 8:41 a.m. on May 13, 2015, Hyde's brother called the Ward County Sheriff's Department. He called the non-emergency dispatch line rather than 911. A dispatch log summarized the call as reporting that Hyde had "been calling his mother crying with suicidal ideations." The dispatch log also noted that Hyde's calls to his mother occurred "last night about a quarter to 01:00 hrs." The dispatcher recorded the request for a welfare check as "Status: Routine, Priority: Low." Deputy Olson testified as follows about the information she received from the dispatcher:

A What I remember is dispatch advising us that there was a welfare check, asked for welfare check. Brother called in for a welfare check and he had called his mother numerous times that night and had made suicidal comments.
Q Okay. In relationship to, I guess, the circumstances, though, there was no sort of direct quote from Mr. Hyde saying he per se was going to kill himself or anything like that that was relayed from dispatch to you, correct? It was just general sort of suicidal comments?
A Correct.
Q And there was no, nothing was relayed to you from dispatch that any sort of suicide was imminent such as Mr. Hyde standing on a ledge, sitting there with a gun to his head, or anything of that nature?
A No, sir.

         [¶ 3] Deputy Olson testified that when she and another deputy arrived at Hyde's residence, she initially spoke to the landlord. The landlord told her that he had seen Hyde the night before. The landlord gave the deputies no indication that Hyde had shown any signs of distress. He went on to say that if a gold SUV was in the driveway, Hyde was probably home. The SUV was parked in the driveway. The landlord also said he believed Hyde was asleep. Starting at 10:20 a.m., the deputies began knocking on the door. After approximately nine minutes of knocking repeatedly without an answer, the deputies entered Hyde's residence through the unlocked door.

         [¶ 4] Upon entering the residence, the deputies checked the living room and two bedrooms for Hyde. In the first bedroom, the deputies did not see Hyde, but they did see a marijuana plant on the floor. The deputies located Hyde asleep in the second bedroom. One deputy shook Hyde to wake him. To the deputy, Hyde seemed very groggy. Hyde told the deputies that he had taken a sleeping pill the night before. The deputy inquired into Hyde's mental health. Hyde acknowledged that he was having a rough time, but he was not suicidal and would be okay. The deputy advised Hyde that she needed to confiscate the marijuana plant she saw in the first bedroom. Hyde agreed and told her she could have all of the plants. Hyde then showed the deputy where he had additional marijuana plants. Based on the information obtained during the initial warrantless entry, a search warrant was obtained. The deputies' search of Hyde's home yielded bagged marijuana, thirty-five marijuana plants, and marijuana paraphernalia.

         [¶ 5] Hyde was charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance. Hyde brought a motion to suppress the evidence found after the deputies entered his residence without a warrant. The district court denied the motion. Hyde entered a conditional plea of guilty on the charges. On appeal, Hyde argues the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress, because the deputies did ...

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