June 12, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:17-cr-00161-1 -
Jorge L. Alonso, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Barrett and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.
EVE, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Sawyer entered a conditional guilty plea to possessing a
firearm as a felon, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), preserving for
this direct appeal his challenge to the denial of his motion
to suppress evidence. Sawyer contests the search of his
backpack, which he left inside a home that he had entered
unlawfully. The police found guns inside the backpack. The
district court denied the motion to suppress, concluding that
Sawyer, as a trespasser, had no legitimate expectation of
privacy in the house and therefore none in the unattended
backpack. We agree with the district court and affirm the
26, 2016, Chicago police officers responded to a report of a
residential burglary in progress. After they approached the
home and looked for signs of a forced entry, someone named
M.G. arrived, and told the officers that he and his wife
owned the home. He explained that it was a rental property
with no current tenants and that no one should be inside.
M.G. then saw that one of the home's front windows was
cracked open and, peering inside, he saw a figure in the
house. He yelled through the window, demanding that any
occupants leave the house. The officers banged on the front
door and ordered all the occupants to come outside.
Ultimately, Sawyer and three others came out and stood with
the officers on the porch.
then asked the officers to "go inside and check my
house." In the basement, officers found a backpack; they
opened it immediately and discovered four guns inside. The
searching officers used the radio to inform the officers
outside, who placed Sawyer and the three others in custody.
The officers who had searched the backpack brought it
outside. Officer Jorie Wood, who had remained outside, then
opened the backpack and found a cell phone. She gave
Miranda warnings to the arrestees and asked them who
owned the phone. Sawyer responded that it was his phone and
his bag. Wood later asked Sawyer again if it was his bag, and
that time, he said no.
he was indicted, Sawyer moved to suppress the contents of the
backpack and his statements about it. He argued that the
officers lacked probable cause or consent to search it. The
government responded that Sawyer had no "standing"
to contest the search because he failed to provide evidence
that he had a subjective expectation of privacy in the
backpack, and that even if he had, Sawyer, as a trespasser,
had no legitimate expectation of privacy that society is
prepared to recognize. The government also argued that the
officers obtained consent from the owner to search the home.
The district court denied Sawyer's motion to suppress,
concluding that Sawyer lacked "standing" to
challenge the search because he was unlawfully present in the
house and thus had no reasonable expectation of privacy
there. The court further determined that the officers were
entitled to search the backpack as part of their ongoing
investigation of a burglary.
then conditionally pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing a
firearm as a felon, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). He expressly
retained the right to challenge the denial of his motion to
court reviews the denial of the motion to suppress de novo.
See United States v. Edgeworth, 889 F.3d 350, 353
(7th Cir. 2018). On appeal, Sawyer maintains that he had a
legitimate expectation of privacy in the backpack because it
was undisputed that he owned it and that he told the officers
that it was his. He also contends that the district court
characterized his privacy interest too broadly by focusing on
his expectation of privacy in the home instead of in the
closed backpack itself.
of a defendant's legitimate expectation of privacy
requires us to determine first whether the defendant's
rights were personally violated. Rakas v. Illinois,
439 U.S. 128, 133-34 (1978). In Rakas, the Supreme
Court held that this determination is not a separate matter
of "standing," "distinct from the merits of a
defendant's Fourth Amendment claim." Id. at
138-39. Instead, it should be addressed through the
substantive Fourth Amendment question of whether the person
challenging the search "had a legitimate expectation of
privacy in the premises he was using" and thus could
assert Fourth Amendment protections. Id. at 143;
United States v. Carlisle, 614 F.3d 750, 756 (7th
Cir. 2010). To determine whether someone has a legitimate
expectation of privacy, courts must consider (1) whether that
person, by his conduct, has exhibited an actual, subjective
expectation of privacy and (2) whether his expectation of
privacy is one that society is prepared to recognize as
reasonable. See Carlisle, 614 F.3d at 756-57. Sawyer
bears the burden of showing that he had a legitimate
expectation of privacy in the backpack. See id. at
the district court mischaracterized Sawyer's argument as
an issue of "standing," it properly concluded,
nonetheless, that Sawyer, as a trespasser, had no reasonable
expectation of privacy in the backpack he brought in when he
unlawfully entered the premises. The Fourth Amendment
requires an examination of "the totality of the
circumstances," see United States v. Knights,534 U.S. 112, 118 (2001), which in this case includes the
presence of the unattended backpack in a home Sawyer was
trespassing. A privacy interest is not reasonable when
one's presence in a place is "wrongful."
Rakas, 439 U.S. at 143, n.l2. (citation omitted).
Here, the officers responded to a report of a residential
break-in and learned from M.G. that the home should be empty
and unoccupied. Sawyer and three others then emerged from the
home. M.G. requested a search of the home during which the
officers discovered and searched the backpack. Sawyer does
not assert that his-and therefore his backpack's-presence
was lawful or offer any basis for his privacy interest in the
home. Thus, like "[a] burglar plying his trade in a
summer cabin during the off season/' Sawyer ...