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State v. Hodges

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
NICHOLAS HODGES, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Duane E. Hoffmeyer (motion to suppress) and Jeffrey A. Neary (trial and sentencing), Judges.

         Nicholas Hodges appeals his drug-offense convictions. AFFIRMED.

          Rees Conrad Douglas, Sioux City, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, Presiding Judge.

         Nicholas Hodges appeals his convictions for possession with intent to deliver (marijuana), in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(d) (2016), and failure to affix a drug tax stamp, in violation of section 453B.12, both class "D" felonies. On appeal, Hodges argues the district court erred in overruling his motion to suppress. He claims his arrest by a Plymouth County deputy sheriff in Woodbury County was an unlawful extraterritorial arrest and, therefore, any evidence derived as a result of the traffic stop should have been suppressed. Under the facts presented, we conclude the deputy had authority to stop the truck in which Hodges was a passenger, and to arrest Hodges. We affirm the district court.

         I. Factual Background and Proceedings.

         On July 30, 2016, Plymouth County Deputy Sheriff Jake Wingert observed a pickup truck traveling northbound on Frelon Drive in Plymouth County. As the truck passed by, the deputy noticed two male occupants and took note of the license plate number. As the deputy ran the plate in his computer, he observed the truck turn onto Highway 75 and begin traveling south towards Sioux City into Woodbury County. After running the plate information into the computer system, the deputy received information indicating that the owner (a male) had a suspended Iowa driver's license. The deputy followed the truck while waiting for the information from the computer, and after receiving the suspended-license information, the deputy pursued the truck because, he testified, he believed that the registered owner could be the driver.

         Deputy Wingert made contact with Woodbury County Deputy Nate Sands. Deputy Wingert communicated to Deputy Sands that he was in pursuit of a vehicle traveling southbound on Highway 75 that he believed was driven by the owner, who had a suspended license. Deputy Sands informed Deputy Wingert that he was out of position but to go ahead and stop the vehicle and Deputy Sanders would join as soon as he was able to get to the location.

         A short time later, Deputy Wingert initiated a traffic stop on the Highway 75 exit onto Gordon Drive in Sioux City. Deputy Wingert reported:

I approached the driver's side window of the vehicle and spoke to the occupants. Prior to doing that, I did watch the front passenger in the truck appear to be reaching down and either grabbing or moving something. While speaking to the individuals at the window of the vehicle, I immediately detected the heavy odor of marijuana. They informed me that the registered owner of the vehicle was currently not with them and they had borrowed his vehicle. . . . The driver . . . was identified . . . [and] I took him back to my patrol vehicle and had him have a seat in the front passenger's area. I then reported to the passenger's seat area and asked the passenger to get out. The passenger was identified as Nicholas Ray Hodges. He did not currently have an ID with him. I spoke to him for a short time in reference to the odor of marijuana and he informed me while speaking to him that it was in the middle console area of the vehicle and that he was the owner of it. He was asked to sit against the front bumper of my patrol vehicle. A short time later, I was joined by Deputy Sands from Woodbury County and also Sgt. Bauerly from Woodbury County.
While at my patrol vehicle, I spoke with the driver of the vehicle and he informed me that any marijuana in the vehicle was not his and claimed he did not know of it. He also was unable to provide insurance for the vehicle. Deputy Sands spoke to the individual at the front of my patrol vehicle for a short time and came back to my window and informed me that he was just going to retrieve the marijuana from the vehicle, as the driver told him there was approximately three ounces of marijuana. Deputy Sands then retrieved a bag of marijuana that was stuffed between the passenger's seat and the middle seat area on the floor. Deputy Sands informed me that this marijuana was in closest proximity to the passenger who had claimed ownership of it and had identified the approximate weight to him. When Deputy Sands presented me with the marijuana, it was in a bag approximately the size of my hand. The marijuana was very tightly compressed and appeared to have recently been cut off a larger brick of marijuana. Deputy Sands also looked through the vehicle and was unable to find any other drug paraphernalia or smoking devices. The driver of the vehicle was released with a verbal warning for not having current insurance and was allowed to leave the scene. The passenger, Nicholas Ray Hodges, was transported to the Plymouth County Jail. . . .
While on the scene prior to getting in my vehicle, Mr. Hodges was read his Miranda rights. He was seated in the rear of my patrol vehicle prior to being transported to the Plymouth County Jail. Upon arrival to the jail, he was placed in the jail's custody. The marijuana confiscated was found to weigh approximately 100 grams. Nicholas Hodges was charged with possession of ...

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