You are a police officer on patrol. While on routine patrol around 3:30AM, you drive through an alley. From your patrol car, you can see lights on in a garage and you can hear music coming from the garage. The garage is not attached to the home and sits at the rear of the property, near the alley.
You stop and park your vehicle in the alley. You walk up to the garage – thinking you will just check in and “say hi” to anyone who might be in the garage. The garage door is not open, so you open a side door and walk into the garage. You do not knock before entering. When you walk into the garage, you see two males standing by a large silver pot. You also see white steam is coming from the pot and you notice a strong smell like ammonia. Based on your quick scan of the men and the items in the garage, you believe the men are manufacturing meth.
You order the men to “freeze” and get on the floor with their hands behind their backs. As you are handcuffing the men, you call for backup and report to dispatch of a possible meth lab.
Other officers respond, include a detective trained in investigating meth labs. Everyone leaves the garage and detectives put on special suits to enter the garage to investigate. The detectives identify material found in the garage as meth and of meth manufacturing in process. The detectives also find several handguns sitting on a table in the garage. Further investigation shows that one of the handguns might be connected to a recent drive-by shooting in the community.
The two men are charged with possession of methamphetamine and manufacturing of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.
The two men are also charged with attempted murder based on the handgun found in the garage.
The defense attorneys for the two men have filed motions to suppress all evidence found in the garage, including any evidence of drugs and the handgun.
For your first post, assume the role of the judge in the case, and respond to the following questions:
- Will you exclude any evidence of meth or manufacture of meth?
- What is the Fourth Amendment issue in this case?
- Are the officer’s actions lawful?
- What is the reasoning behind your decision?
- What is the impact of your decision on evidence of meth or manufacture of meth?
- What is the impact of your decision on the handgun believed to have been used in the drive-by shooting?