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People v. Wolgemuth

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 12, 1977.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

DANNY RAY WOLGEMUTH, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County, the Hon. Conway L. Spanton, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a jury trial in the circuit court of Rock Island County, the defendant, Danny Ray Wolgemuth, was convicted of unlawful possession of less than 200 grams of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than three years. The appellate court reversed the conviction, holding that the trial court had erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress evidence discovered incident to an unlawful, warrantless arrest of the defendant. 43 Ill. App.3d 335.

The issue before this court is whether, by entering the defendant's private dwelling to make the arrest, the police violated the defendant's fourth amendment right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.

A court in Keokuk, Iowa, issued an arrest warrant against the defendant for the offense of burglary. In pursuit of the fruits of the burglary, Iowa authorities used the arrest warrant to obtain an Illinois search warrant to search what they believed to be the defendant's residence in Rock Island. The search by Iowa police, assisted by Officer Donald Barker of the Rock Island city police department, proved fruitless.

The next day, Officer Barker received a tip from Helen Allen, a probation officer. The tip, based on information from an anonymous informant who was unknown to Barker, informed Barker that the defendant was residing with one of Ms. Allen's female probationers at an address other than that which had been searched the previous day. The record indicates that the defendant and the female probationer had rented an apartment jointly as husband and wife. At approximately 10 a.m., Barker, Ms. Allen, and Officer Smiley went to the apartment without an arrest or search warrant in their possession. Barker testified that they knocked on the door for about 10 minutes, but no one responded. The officers checked with neighbors, who indicated that persons fitting the descriptions conveyed by the police did reside in the apartment and had not been seen leaving the apartment that morning. The officers went to the manager and had him call the owner of the building. With the owner present, the officers knocked on the door again for approximately five minutes before the owner, with a pass key, admitted them into the defendant's apartment. At the suppression hearing, Officer Barker testified that he did not remember whether the police had announced their authority and purpose as they entered the apartment.

Once inside, the police walked through a living room into the bedroom where they found the defendant and the female probationer asleep. As Officer Smiley took the defendant into custody, Officer Barker noticed plastic pill bottles without prescription labels on a table at the foot of the bed. Barker also stepped on pills, scattered on the floor, which appeared similar to those in the bottles. Barker seized the bottles, the contents of which were later introduced into evidence.

It is conceded that if the entry and arrest were lawful, the seized pills would be admissible as evidence found in plain view incident to a lawful arrest. It is also conceded that the police had probable cause to arrest the defendant and that, had the defendant been arrested on a public street without a warrant, no constitutional issue would be involved.

The decision of the appellate court in this case presupposes that the police made a warrantless arrest. (43 Ill. App.3d 335, 338.) Based on this assumption, the appellate court held that the warrantless arrest was a violation of the fourth amendment because no exigent circumstances existed to obviate the requirement of a warrant. (Although the United States Supreme Court has consistently reserved judgment on the constitutionality of a warrantless entry into a home to make an arrest absent exigent circumstances (see United States v. Santana (1976), 427 U.S. 38, 47, 49 L.Ed.2d 300, 307, 96 S.Ct. 2406, 2410 (dissenting opinion); United States v. Watson (1976), 423 U.S. 411, 418 n. 6, 46 L.Ed.2d 598, 605 n. 6, 96 S.Ct. 820, 825 n. 6; Gerstein v. Pugh (1975), 420 U.S. 103, 113 n. 13, 43 L.Ed.2d 54, 65 n. 13, 95 S.Ct. 854, 863 n. 13; Johnson v. Louisiana (1972), 406 U.S. 356, 365, 32 L.Ed.2d 152, 161, 92 S.Ct. 1620, 1626; Coolidge v. New Hampshire (1971), 403 U.S. 443, 480-81, 29 L.Ed.2d 564, 591, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 2045; Jones v. United States (1958), 357 U.S. 493, 499-500, 2 L.Ed.2d 1514, 1519, 78 S.Ct. 1253, 1257), at least five Federal courts> of appeal have acknowledged that such warrantless entries may be unconstitutional. See Salvador v. United States (8th Cir. 1974), 505 F.2d 1348, 1351-52; United States v. Phillips (9th Cir. 1974), 497 F.2d 1131, 1135; United States v. Shye (6th Cir. 1974), 492 F.2d 886, 891-93; Dorman v. United States (D.C. Cir. 1970), 435 F.2d 385, 389-94; Vance v. North Carolina (4th Cir. 1970), 432 F.2d 984, 990-91.)

We need not inquire whether exigent circumstances justified the entry, because we are of the opinion that the warrant issued by an Iowa magistrate validated the entry.

Defendant contends that the entry was warrantless because an Iowa arrest warrant has no validity beyond the boundaries of Iowa. This position accurately expresses the common law absent statutory authority to the contrary. (5 Am.Jur.2d Arrest secs. 18, 20 (1962).) Defendant overlooks the Illinois statute which expressly provides that "[a] peace officer may arrest a person when * * * [h]e has reasonable grounds to believe that a warrant for the person's arrest has been issued in this State or in another jurisdiction." (Emphasis added.) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 107-2(b).) The plain meaning of the statute authorizes police to arrest on the basis of out-of-State, as well as in-State, warrants. Defendant does not challenge the intrinsic constitutionality of the Iowa warrant, e.g., that it was not based on probable cause or that it did not adequately describe the person to be arrested or that it was not issued by a neutral magistrate. Moreover, the Iowa warrant is not invalidated merely because the officers failed to have it in their possession at the time of the arrest. The committee's comments accompanying section 107-2(b) specify:

"Under subsection (b) it is not necessary for the officer to have the warrant with him to make an arrest based on a warrant." (Ill. Ann. Stat., ch. 38, par. 107-2(b), Committee Comments, at 162 (Smith-Hurd 1970).)

Also see People v. Jeffries (1964), 31 Ill.2d 597, for the same conclusion in a related context.

The fact that an arrest warrant had been issued distinguishes this case from that in which police execute a warrantless entry of a suspect's home. The primary function of the warrant requirement of the fourth amendment is to interpose prior to an arrest a neutral magistrate's review of the factual justification for the charges. (United States v. Watson (1976), 423 U.S. 411, 417, 46 L.Ed.2d 598, 605, 96 S.Ct. 820, 825.) This serves to relieve police officers, "engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime," of the responsibility of drawing neutral and sober inferences regarding a suspect's criminality. (Johnson v. United States (1948), 333 U.S. 10, 14, 92 L.Ed. 436, 440, 68 S.Ct. 367, 369; Gerstein v. Pugh (1975), 420 U.S. 103, 112, 43 L.Ed.2d 54, 64, 95 S.Ct. 854, 862.) It is this division of responsibility which militates against "the dangers of unlimited and unreasonable arrests of persons who are not at the moment committing any crime." (Trupiano v. United States (1948), 334 U.S. 699, 705, 92 L.Ed. 1663, 1669, 68 S.Ct. 1229, 1232.) The warrant requirement of the fourth amendment is not frustrated in this case by the distinctive fact that the arrest warrant was issued in a State other than that in which it was executed. Whether a valid foreign warrant is effective in Illinois is a matter of State, not constitutional, law. A suspect's ...


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