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State v. Barden

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 3, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BOBBI LEE BARDEN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Paul G. Crawford, District Associate Judge.

         Bobbi Barden appeals her conviction for possession of methamphetamine, first offense. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender (until withdrawal), and Ashley Stewart, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A Madrid police officer responded to a "domestic situation" at a home occupied by Bobbi Barden, her mother, and several children. The officer spoke to Barden and her mother outside the home. After Barden went inside, the officer engaged in a more exhaustive conversation with her mother, then entered the home with the mother's consent.

         Once inside, the officer asked Barden for consent to enter her bedroom. Barden initially refused. She later equivocated on the search of her room but agreed to a search of her purse. The officer found methamphetamine inside the purse.

         The State charged Barden with possession of methamphetamine, first offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(5) (2017). Barden moved to suppress the evidence gained in the search of her purse.[1] Following a hearing, the district court denied that aspect of the suppression motion. The court tried Barden on the minutes of testimony, found her guilty as charged, and imposed judgment and sentence.

         On appeal, Barden contends the warrantless search of her purse violated constitutional prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures. See State v. Fleming, 790 N.W.2d 560, 563 (Iowa 2010) (enumerating rights). Specifically, she argues her "consent to the search was given involuntarily." See State v. Reinier, 628 N.W.2d 460, 465 (Iowa 2001) ("A warrantless search conducted by free and voluntary consent does not violate the Fourth Amendment."); see also State v. Pettijohn, 899 N.W.2d 1, 25 (Iowa 2017) ("[Effective consent to a warrantless search establishes a waiver of an individual's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under article I, section 8.").

         The Iowa Supreme Court has applied the federal standard for effective consent: "whether the consent was voluntarily given and not a result of duress or coercion, expressed or implied." See State v. Pals, 805 N.W.2d 767, 777 (Iowa 2011) (citing Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 247-48 (1973)). Under that standard, "[voluntariness is a question of fact to be determined by all the circumstances." Id. The court has "yet to consider whether a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures set forth in article I, section 8 is required to establish the effectiveness of consent under the Iowa Constitution." Pettijohn, 899 N.W.2d at 32 (citations omitted). In the absence of guidance on that question, we decline Barden's invitation to adopt the more stringent test.

         In evaluating the voluntariness of Barden's consent under the federal standard, we may consider the following non-exclusive factors:

personal characteristics of the defendant, such as age, education, intelligence, sobriety, and experience with the law; and features of the context in which the consent was given, such as the length of detention or questioning, the substance of any discussion between the defendant and police preceding the consent, whether the defendant was free to leave or was subject to restraint, and whether the defendant's contemporaneous reaction to the search was consistent with consent.

Pettijohn, 899 N.W.2d at 32 (citing United States v. Jones,254 F.3d 692, 696 (8th Cir. 2001). Our review of the record is de novo. See State v. Smith,919 ...


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