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State of Iowa v. Michael Scott Sines

April 10, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MICHAEL SCOTT SINES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Lucy J. Gamon, Judge.

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

Michael Sines appeals his conviction for driving while barred, alleging his counsel was ineffective. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Danilson and Bower, JJ.

Michael Sines appeals his conviction for driving while barred, alleging his counsel was ineffective by failing to make a motion to suppress Sines' admission as the product of an unconstitutional interrogation. Because Sines was not in custody, and the officer independently confirmed his barred status after Sines' voluntary statements, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Sines passed a patrol officer while navigating a snowmobile around 2:00 a.m. on February 14, 2010. The officer followed him, and watched him park and enter a residence. The officer did not turn on her lights or siren, but approached the residence to discover the identity of the snowmobiler and check the vehicle registration.

The owner of the residence answered the door. The officer indicated she was looking for the operator of the snowmobile. The resident opened the door to disclose Sines inside the residence, and directed Sines to exit the home and talk to the officer.

The officer asked Sines if the snowmobile belonged to him. He reluctantly admitted that it did. The officer asked for his name and he originally said either "Jessie" or "Jamie." The officer requested identification, but Sines had none.

The officer detected a strong odor of alcohol during the interview. Sines admitted to drinking two beers at his house. He then gave the officer his true name, date of birth, and address. The officer inquired why he had first given her a false name. He replied that he did not have a valid driver's license because he was barred.

Officer Scarff called in Sines' information and confirmed his driver's license was barred. The officer also administered field sobriety tests, which Sines passed. Officer Scarff arrested Sines for driving while barred.

The State charged Sines with driving while barred in violation of Iowa Code sections 321.560 and 321.561 (2009). Sines filed a motion to suppress arguing that the officer had no reason to approach and detain him at the residence. The motion did not argue that Sines' admission was the product of an unconstitutional interrogation. The district court denied the motion. Sines waived his right to a jury trial and proceeded to a bench trial on the minutes of testimony. The court found him guilty as charged.

On appeal, Sines contends his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to file a motion to suppress his admission on the ground that it was the product of an unconstitutional interrogation. Specifically, Sines contends that he was not given Miranda warnings despite being subjected to what he alleges was a custodial interrogation.

II. Standard of Review.

We review ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims de novo. State v. Maxwell, 743 N.W.2d 185, 189 (Iowa 2008); see also State v. Fountain, 786 N.W.2d 260, 263 (Iowa 2010) ("Ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims are an exception to the traditional error-preservation rules."). We generally preserve ...


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