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In re D.C.

September 24, 2010

IN RE D.C., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW.
THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
D.C., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Alameda County Super. Ct. No. SJ08010703-02). Trial Judge: Hon. Paul D. Seeman.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Margulies, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Appellant D.C., a minor, was continued as a ward of the court after police found stolen goods in his bedroom during a search of the apartment he shared with his mother and older brother. Police originally went to the apartment to conduct a probation search relating to the older brother, suspecting he might have been involved in local crimes. As they arrived, the officers obtained consent from appellant's mother to search the entire apartment. Appellant objected and attempted to block the officers' entry, but he relented when his mother told him to "get out of the way."

Appellant contends evidence of the stolen goods should have been suppressed because (1) his mother did not have the authority to consent to a search of his bedroom and (2) his objection to the officers' entry to the apartment precluded a consensual search under Georgia v. Randolph (2006) 547 U.S. 103 (Randolph). While the arguments appellant raises might have prevailed were he an adult, we conclude his mother, as the parent of a minor child, had the authority to consent to a search of his bedroom and to override any objection he raised to the search of her apartment.

I. BACKGROUND

On November 25, 2009, the Alameda County District Attorney filed a wardship petition under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602, subdivision (a), alleging appellant, then age 15, had received stolen property (Pen. Code, § 496). The petition also alleged appellant had previously been found to have threatened a witness, in violation of Penal Code section 140.

Officer Morris, a police officer with the Oakland Housing Authority, testified that on October 26, 2009, he and other officers were called to an apartment building on a report of possible narcotics activity. After they arrived, an officer detained appellant's adult brother, suspecting he was involved in the reported activity. In the meantime, a building resident reported to a third officer that his apartment had been burglarized.

Running a check, the officers learned appellant's brother was on probation and the terms of his probation permitted warrantless searches. Officer Morris escorted the brother to the apartment where he lived with appellant and their mother, intending to conduct a probation search. On the way, they met appellant's mother and explained to her they wanted to search the apartment to confirm appellant's brother was not involved in the narcotics activity or the burglary. She consented to the search.*fn1

At the time, appellant was lingering nearby. As the officers approached the apartment door he barred their way, telling them, "You're not going to enter the apartment." When his mother told him to "get out of the way," appellant complied, stepping aside and remaining outside the apartment while the officers entered and began to search. During their search of appellant's bedroom, one of three in the apartment, the officers found some of the items reportedly taken in the burglary. By the time the officers completed their search of his bedroom, appellant was no longer outside the apartment.

The juvenile court denied appellant's motion to suppress the evidence taken from his room and found the allegations of the petition to be true. The court continued appellant as a ward of the court and continued him on probation in the custody of his mother.

II. DISCUSSION

Appellant contends the evidence found in his bedroom should have been suppressed because the warrantless search occurred without his consent and over his objection.

A. Legal Background

In reviewing a ruling on a motion to suppress, we defer to the trial court's factual findings when supported by substantial evidence, but we exercise our independent judgment in determining whether, on the facts so found, the search was lawful. (People v. Redd (2010) 48 Cal.4th 691, 719.) A warrantless search is presumed to be unreasonable, and the prosecution bears the burden of ...


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