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State v. DeGroot

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 8, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
PAUL LEE DeGROOT, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant appeals his conviction for possession of a controlled substance, third offense.

          Thomas P. Frerichs of Frerichs Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli A. Huser, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         Paul DeGroot appeals his conviction for possession of a controlled substance, third offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(5) (2014), claiming the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress. First of all, DeGroot cannot assert another person's constitutional rights. Further, because DeGroot was not in custody when he admitted he had marijuana and he voluntarily turned over the drugs to the police, we find no error in the district court's denial of the motion and affirm DeGroot's conviction.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On November 25, 2014, Tripoli Police Chief Daniel Banks set up a drug buy with a juvenile. Chief Banks learned from the juvenile that T.D., DeGroot's stepson, would be able to get marijuana from his parents and sell it to the juvenile. Just before the buy, the chief parked his unmarked vehicle where he observed T.D. take something out of his backpack and put it in his pocket. After approximately thirty seconds, the chief exited his vehicle and approached the two boys. There, he observed a small plastic bag containing a green leafy substance hanging halfway out of T.D.'s pocket. He told T.D. to hand over the bag. T.D. indicated his parents did not know he took the marijuana from their house, it was his father's marijuana, and there was more at home.

         The chief advised T.D. he needed to escort him to city hall and contact his parents. The chief did not read T.D. his Miranda[1] rights and drove him the short distance to city hall. While the chief was escorting T.D. inside, DeGroot and his wife drove by and saw their son being escorted into city hall. They stopped and entered the building. The chief placed T.D. in his office and took DeGroot and his wife into the nearby city council meeting room to explain the situation. The chief explained that T.D. was caught attempting to sell marijuana and T.D. had told the chief the marijuana belonged to DeGroot. DeGroot responded with laughter.

         DeGroot initially denied there was more marijuana at his home, but after the chief explained he would either get a search warrant or DeGroot could voluntarily handover the marijuana, DeGroot agreed to voluntarily hand it over. DeGroot then accompanied the chief in the front seat of his patrol car to DeGroot's home, which was outside the city limits of Tripoli. During the ride, DeGroot requested he not be charged with possession as it would be his third possession charge, and the chief advised DeGroot that he would not charge DeGroot. When they arrived at the home, DeGroot retrieved the marijuana and turned it over to the chief. After the chief took possession of the marijuana he informed the Bremer County Sheriff's Department of the situation.

         The sheriff decided to pursue the issue, and DeGroot was then charged with possession of a controlled substance, third or subsequent offense. DeGroot filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained from his statements, his stepson's statements, and stemming from an illegal search of his home. The district court denied DeGroot's motion. After a trial on the minutes of evidence, the district court found DeGroot guilty and sentenced him to 180 days in jail with all but four days suspended.

         DeGroot appeals.

         II. Scope and ...


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