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People v. Dillon





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Daniel P. Glecier, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied September 28, 1984.

Defendant, Donald Dillon, Jr., was charged with the unlawful possession of less than 30 grams of a controlled substance containing cocaine (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1402(b)). The circuit court of Cook County granted his motion to suppress the cocaine evidence, and the State appealed the suppression order pursuant to our Rule 604(a)(1) (87 Ill.2d R. 604(a)(1)). The appellate court affirmed (116 Ill. App.3d 1171) in a Rule 23 order (87 Ill.2d R. 23), and we allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal (87 Ill.2d R. 315).

On the evening of November 7, 1981, two patrolling Palos Hills police officers stopped the automobile being driven by defendant when they noticed that his rear license plate light was out. Officer James Murphy approached defendant, explained the reason for the stop, and asked to see defendant's driver's license. Officer Murphy's partner then ran a routine radio check of the license and was informed that a warrant for defendant's arrest for a bond forfeiture was outstanding. Although defendant claimed that his lawyer had "taken care of" the warrant, he was placed under arrest and taken to the Palos Hills police station, where he was handcuffed to a chair in a detention room. Officer Murphy was given a police computer slip verifying the information previously received over the radio and commenced "processing" defendant. The officer apparently unhandcuffed defendant and instructed him to place his personal belongings on a table while the officer listed them on the inventory sheet. After defendant placed several items, including his wallet, on the table, Officer Murphy examined the wallet and discovered a folded-up piece of opaque paper containing cocaine. During this period of 30 to 45 minutes, Officer Murphy testified defendant used the telephone to make "approximately" 10 calls.

The State urges that the discovery and removal of the cocaine were justified either as incidental to defendant's lawful arrest or as a standard police inventory undertaken at the police station. The trial judge, stating that he assumed, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, that a valid warrant was outstanding, agreed that Officer Murphy properly seized defendant's wallet, but considered the further examination of the wallet's contents to be an "unconstitutional intrusion," apparently because a less intrusive inventory could have been accomplished by sealing the wallet and its contents in an envelope. The appellate court affirmed, holding that the officer had no authority to conduct an inventory search since it was not established at the suppression hearing that defendant was going to be incarcerated. We reverse.

Our statute provides:

"When a lawful arrest is effected a peace officer may reasonably search the person arrested and the area within such person's immediate presence for the purpose of:

(d) Discovering any instruments, articles, or things which may have been used in the commission of, or which may constitute evidence of, an offense." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 108-1.)

When that statute is considered in light of United States v. Edwards (1974), 415 U.S. 800, 39 L.Ed.2d 771, 94 S.Ct. 1234, United States v. Robinson (1973), 414 U.S. 218, 38 L.Ed.2d 427, 94 S.Ct. 467, and People v. Hoskins (1984), 101 Ill.2d 209, it may well be that the seizure of the cocaine in defendant's wallet could be sustained as a search incidental to defendant's arrest. Because the examination of the wallet actually occurred at the station house during an inventory of defendant's possessions, however, we prefer to consider it in the category of an inventory search.

In our judgment, the search and seizure rules enunciated in the recent opinions of the Supreme Court in Illinois v. Lafayette (1983), 462 U.S. 640, 77 L.Ed.2d 65, 103 S.Ct. 2605, Robinson and our own opinion in Hoskins are clearly dispositive of the issues before us. As we said in Hoskins:

"The proper approach for evaluating compliance with the fourth amendment is to objectively assess the officer's actions in light of the facts and circumstances before him at the time without regard to his underlying intent or motivation. [Citation.]" (People v. Hoskins (1984), 101 Ill.2d 209, 213-14.)

The trial judge found, and we agree, that there is nothing in this record indicating any reason for Officer Murphy to doubt that a valid warrant was outstanding for defendant's arrest. He had been so informed at the scene of the arrest as a result of the radio check of defendant's driver's license, and that information had been verified from the computer upon his arrival at the station. Despite defendant's assertion that he told Officer Murphy the warrant had been "taken care of" and that defendant could "bond out," the officer was not obliged to accept defendant's statements, particularly in view of the contrary information from the earlier inquiries. (People v. Gwin (1971), 49 Ill.2d 255.) Indisputably, probable cause for defendant's arrest and detention existed. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 107-2(1)(b); People v. Creach (1980), 79 Ill.2d 96, 101-02.

The defendant who moves to suppress evidence has the burden of establishing the unlawfulness of the search and seizure. (People v. Hoskins (1984), 101 Ill.2d 209, 212, and authorities there cited.) Other than the fact that the warrant was for a "bond forfeiture," there is no proof of the precise charge upon which it was issued. If the offense was in fact bail jumping, any bond in connection with that charge would presumably be substantial. Again there is no proof of defendant's ability to meet the requirements of a substantial bond. In short, nothing before us indicates a result other than that it would be necessary to continue to hold defendant in custody. There appears to us nothing unreasonable or offensive to the fourth amendment in the conduct of an officer who, believing the prisoner in custody must be held for further proceedings in connection with the warrant, proceeds to inventory his belongings as a preliminary step in the incarceration process. (Illinois v. Lafayette (1983), 462 U.S. 640, 77 L.Ed.2d 65, 103 S.Ct. 2605.) As the court there stated:

"The question here is whether, consistent with the Fourth Amendment, it is reasonable for police to search the personal effects of a person under lawful arrest as part of the routine administrative procedure at a police stationhouse incident to booking and jailing the suspect. * * * A so-called inventory search is not an independent legal concept but rather an incidental administrative step following arrest and preceding ...

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