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State v. Stenhoff

Supreme Court of North Dakota

April 11, 2019

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
Shannon David Keola Stenhoff, Defendant and Appellee

          Appeal from the District Court of McKenzie County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Robin A. Schmidt, Judge.

          Stephenie L. Davis, Assistant State's Attorney, Watford City, ND, for plaintiff and appellant.

          Jared W. Gietzen, Dickinson, ND, for defendant and appellee.

          OPINION

          MCEVERS, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] The State appeals from a district court order granting Shannon Stenhoff's motion to suppress evidence. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         I

         [¶2] In November 2017, Shannon Stenhoff was sentenced to two years of supervised probation, the terms of which included a search clause. The search clause provided:

You shall submit your person, place of residence and vehicle, or any other property to which you may have access, to search and seizure at any time of day or night by a parole/probation officer, with or without a search warrant.

         After allegedly violating the conditions of his probation, a petition to revoke Stenhoff's probation was filed on January 30, 2018 and an order to apprehend was issued.

         [¶3] On February 5, 2018, law enforcement officers executed a "fugitive apprehension search warrant" for Stenhoff at the location they believed Stenhoff was living and arrested him sometime between 9:20 p.m. and 1:12 a.m., February 6, 2018. According to Stenhoff's probation officer, it was believed to be Stenhoff's residence because it was Stenhoff's last reported address. While at that location, a cursory officer safety search of the residence was conducted. According to testimony of a deputy, while the officers were in the residence, a child residing there questioned if the officers were there for "the drugs and [alluded] to the presence of the illegal narcotics in the residence." A deputy who conducted the search testified the child's statement caused him to attempt to contact Stenhoff's probation officer to notify him of the search for Stenhoff, but the probation officer did not answer the call. The deputy testified there were no narcotics in plain view.

         [¶4] Later on February 6, 2018, Stenhoff's probation officer was notified. Approximately 14 hours after Stenhoff's arrest, law enforcement officers and Stenhoff's probation officer visited the residence where Stenhoff was apprehended to conduct a probationary search. During the course of that search, several items of drug paraphernalia, drugs, and a rifle were found.

         [¶5] Based on the evidence seized during the probationary search, the State filed charges in February 2018. In May 2018, Stenhoff moved to suppress the evidence against him, claiming the warrantless probationary search violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The State opposed the motion. Following a suppression hearing, where testimony from various law enforcement officers and a probation officer was heard, the district court granted Stenhoff's motion to suppress, concluding the search was unreasonable and violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches, because law enforcement should have sought a warrant to search the residence.

         [¶6] On appeal, the State argues the search at the residence where Stenhoff was arrested was reasonable because probationers have a lesser expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment, and the statements made to law enforcement by the child living at the residence ...


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