from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Duane E.
defendant appeals from his convictions for possession of
prescription drugs and possession of a controlled substance.
Priscilla E. Forsyth, Sioux City, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli Huser, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
Pinney was convicted of possession of a controlled substance
(methamphetamine), as a habitual offender; possession of a
controlled substance (OxyContin), as a habitual offender; and
unlawful possession of a prescription drug (OxyContin). In
this direct appeal, Pinney contends the district court erred
in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a
result of an allegedly unlawful search of his person. Pinney
also claims the district court erred in failing to merge his
convictions and sentences for possession of a controlled
substance (OxyContin) and unlawful possession of a
prescription drug (OxyContin).
relevant events occurred in June 2016 during a sting
operation conducted by a tristate drug task force. On the day
in question, Pinney arrived at a gas station with two other
people. One of the other people was the target of the sting
operation. Although the police were not expecting Pinney to
be at the scene, they recognized Pinney as a known
methamphetamine dealer and sought to conduct a stop and frisk
of his person. An officer ordered Pinney to the ground, but
Pinney resisted and instead tried to walk away. An officer
tackled Pinney to the ground, and Pinney continued to resist
by refusing to place his hands on his back and pinning them
under his chest as officers tried to pull his arms behind his
back. An officer then searched Pinney's person. While
searching Pinney, the officer discovered a pill bottle
containing OxyContin. After Pinney stood up, the officers
searched him more thoroughly and discovered a coin pouch
containing methamphetamine. As a result of Pinney's
refusal to comply with officers during the stop and frisk, he
was arrested for interference with official acts, in
violation of Iowa Code section 719.1 (2016). He was convicted
of this offense in a separate proceeding not at issue in this
appeal. As a result of the officers' search of Pinney, he
was charged with and ultimately convicted of the offenses at
issue in this appeal.
first address Pinney's contention that the search of his
person violated the Fourth Amendment of the federal
constitution and Article I, section eight of the state
constitution. "We review the denial of a motion to
suppress on constitutional grounds de novo." State
v. Ingram, 914 N.W.2d 794, 798 (Iowa 2018). In our
review, "we make an independent evaluation [based on]
the totality of the circumstances as shown by the entire
record." State v. Baldon, 829 N.W.2d 785, 789
(Iowa 2013) (alteration in original) (quoting State v.
Kurth, 813 N.W.2d 270, 272 (Iowa 2012)). We afford
deference to the district court's factual findings due to
the court's ability to observe the witnesses. See
State v. Kreps, 650 N.W.2d 636, 640 (Iowa 2002).
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution safeguards
"[t]he right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable
searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV. Article I
section 8 "of the Iowa Constitution is substantially
identical in language to the Fourth Amendment[, ]" and
both provisions are "usually deem[ed] . . . identical in
scope, import, and purpose." Kreps, 650 N.W.2d
at 640-41 (citing Iowa Const. art. I, § 8; State v.
Scott, 409 N.W.2d 465, 467 (Iowa 1987)). Although Pinney
cites the state constitution, he does not independently
develop the claim. When a party merely adds "a citation
to article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution but then
generally adopt[s] federal caselaw in describing the claim .
. . we may, in our discretion, decide the case based on
potentially dispositive federal constitutional grounds."
Ingram, 914 N.W.2d at 800. Because Pinney does not
develop separate arguments under the federal and state
constitution, we do not consider them separately.
touchstone of any search-and-seizure claim is reasonableness
under the circumstances presented. See Pennsylvania v.
Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 108-09 (1977) ("The touchstone
of our analysis under the Fourth Amendment is always 'the
reasonableness in all the circumstances of the particular
governmental invasion of a citizen's personal
security.'" (citation omitted)); Kreps, 650
N.W.2d at 641 ("The Fourth Amendment imposes a general
reasonableness standard upon all searches and
seizures."). A search incident to a valid arrest is
reasonable within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and
article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. See State
v. Peterson, 515 N.W.2d 23, 25 (Iowa 1994) ("[W]e
hold that in the case of a lawful custodial arrest a full
search of the person is not only an exception to the warrant
requirement of the Fourth Amendment, but is also a
'reasonable' search under that Amendment."
(quoting United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218,
235 (1973))). A search incident to arrest "allows a
police officer 'to search a lawfully arrested
individual's person and the immediately surrounding area
without a warrant.'" State v. Christopher,
757 N.W.2d 247, 249 (Iowa 2008) (quoting United States v.
O'Connell, 408 F.Supp.2d 712, 723 (N.D. Iowa 2005)).
Pinney was arrested for his interference with official acts.
His arrest must be supported by probable cause to permit
consideration of evidence obtained through a search of his
person incident to his arrest. See id. at 250
("[I]f there is probable cause to arrest a person, then
a search of the person arrested and the area within the
person's immediate control is lawful." (quoting
State v. Freeman, 705 N.W.2d 293, 298 (Iowa 2005))).
"Probable cause exists if the totality of the
circumstances as viewed by a reasonable and prudent person
would lead that person to believe that a crime has been or is
being committed and that the arrestee committed or is
committing it." State v. Bumpus, 459 N.W.2d
619, 624 (Iowa 1990).
cause existed to arrest Pinney for interference with official
acts. "A person commits interference with official acts
when the person knowingly resists or obstructs anyone known
by the person to be a peace officer . . . . of any civil or
criminal process . . . ." Iowa Code § 719.1(1)(a).
The officers identified themselves as law enforcement when
approaching Pinney. Their police badges were visible. Pinney
refused to stop for the officers and pinned his arms under
his chest as the officers attempted to conduct a stop and
frisk. The officers were concerned Pinney might have weapons
hidden and was attempting to access them. His conduct
obstructed the officers' stop and frisk. Further, because
of Pinney's conduct, the officers' investigation into
the drug transaction was hindered and delayed. This is
sufficient to establish probable cause of interference with
official acts. Because the officers' search of Pinney was
contemporaneous to his arrest and there was probable cause to
arrest Pinney, the district court properly denied the motion
to suppress the drugs found on Pinney's person.
address Pinney's claim that the district court should
have merged his convictions for possession of a controlled
substance (OxyContin) and unlawful possession of a
prescription drug (OxyContin). Pinney claims the failure to
merge the convictions violated the merger statute, Iowa Code
section 701.9, and the Double Jeopardy Clause. "Alleged
violations of the merger statute are reviewed for corrections
of errors at law. ...