Defendant Lacks Standing to Challenge Search of House


house

Case: People v. Betts, Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished Opinion)

Issues:

Search & seizure; People v. Armendarez; People v. Slaughter; Warrantless searches & seizures; People v. Lemons; Exceptions to the warrant requirement; People v. Davis; The inevitable discovery rule; People v. Brzezinski; Motion to suppress evidence; People v. Woodard; Standing to challenge a search; People v. Brown; People v. Powell; An overnight guest distinguished from a person “merely present”; Minnesota v. Carter; A temporary visitor; People v. Parker; Credibility determinations in deciding a motion to suppress; People v. Burrell; Standing as to the search of a coat; Reasonable expectation of privacy; People v. Mamon; Totality of the circumstances; People v. Mahdi; Abandonment of the object of the search or seizure; People v. Zahn; People v. Shabaz; People v. Rice

Summary:

Holding that defendant lacked standing to challenge the searches of his girlfriend’s house and the jacket found inside, and that even if he had standing as to the jacket, the evidence he sought to suppress was admissible under the inevitable discovery rule, the court affirmed his convictions. He was convicted of felony-firearm and felon in possession of both ammunition and a firearm. He argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence of the firearm and ammunition that supported his convictions. He contended that he had standing to challenge the search of his girlfriend’s home because he was an overnight guest. The court disagreed, concluding that, similar to the defendant in Parker, he could not prove that he was an overnight guest. While he asserted at the suppression hearing that he was in the house “well after midnight,” the record did not indicate when he entered the home or show that he had permission to be there. He was “not an overnight guest simply because he was in the girlfriend’s house after midnight.” He also contended that he had standing as an overnight guest because the girlfriend testified that they “went to bed together.” However, she “initially testified that defendant was in her house, but suggested he was not in her room. She then changed her testimony and claimed that she and defendant ‘went to bed together.’ As the district court found, and the circuit court affirmed, the girlfriend’s testimony was contradictory and lacked credibility.” The court did not find any error in the circuit court’s credibility determinations. Defendant also argued that he had standing to challenge the search of a black and white jacket (found in the basement of the home) in which a speed loader containing several bullets and his Michigan Temporary Personal Identification Card were discovered. The court again disagreed, noting that he arguably abandoned the jacket when he told officers that it was not his. The court further held that even if he had standing to challenge the jacket search, it was inevitable that the ammunition would have been discovered by lawful means.

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