United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Bobby Dean Lynch, Jr.'s
motion to suppress. [DE 22]. The government responded, and
the matter is ripe for ruling. For the following reasons, the
motion is DENIED.
to the matters involved in the instant case, Bobby Dean
Lynch, Jr. (hereinafter "defendant") pled guilty in
Wake County District Court to fleeing or eluding arrest and
abusing a child. His sentence was suspended for a period of
12 months, during which time the he was placed on probation
under the supervision of the North Carolina Department of
Public Safety (NCDPS) Probation Office, Franklin County. The
court imposed the regular conditions of probation listed in
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-l343(b) and certain special
conditions pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1343(bl).
One condition of his probation was that the defendant would
"[s]ubmit at reasonable times to warrantless searches by
a probation officer of the defendant's person and of the
defendant's vehicle and premises while the defendant is
present, for purposes directly related to the probation
Davis (hereinafter "Davis") lived in the same house
as the defendant. Like defendant, Davis was on supervised
probation and was subject to the same conditions of
probation, including those listed in N.C. Gen. Stat. §
15A-1343(b). Davis' judgment included identical language
to the defendant's requiring him to submit to warrantless
December 13, 2016, at 6:10 a.m., a team of law enforcement
officers arrived at defendant's home, which he shared
with Davis, to conduct a warrantless probation search of
Davis. At the time of the search, both defendant and Davis
were on supervised probation by NCDPS. The search was
conducted by NCDPS, local law enforcement, and several
probation officers, including Davis' probation officer.
the officers arrived, they knocked on the front door of the
residence and announced their presence. Officers spoke with
Davis, who informed the officers that defendant also lived in
the residence and pointed out the room in which defendant was
sleeping. Davis then called the defendant out of his bedroom.
The officers told defendant that they were there to conduct a
warrantless search on Davis and that, for officer safety,
defendant should remain in the living room while the search
took place. Defendant agreed, and also gave permission for
officers to conduct a protective sweep of his room.
conducting a protective sweep of the residence, officers
identified paraphernalia associated with narcotics
distribution and sales such as a digital scale, numerous
plastic baggies, and white powder residue in plain view in
the kitchen and in Davis' room. Officers also located a
stun gun in plain view on a table in the common area of the
residence, which defendant admitted belonged to him.
Additionally, officers located a firearm holster in
these discoveries, officers learned through a computer search
that defendant was also subject to warrantless searches
according to the conditions of his probation. Defendant then
consented to a search of his bedroom, where officers located
a loaded firearm on the floor under his dresser. Defendant
was subsequently arrested for violating the terms of his
probation and was charged with being a felon in possession of
a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1)
and 924. Arraignment is currently pending.
submitted the instant motion seeking to suppress the evidence
seized and statements made as a result of the search on
December 13, 2016, arguing that the warrantless search of his
home was unlawful under North Carolina law and violated his
rights under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that "[t]he
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated." U.S. Const, amend. IV.
"The Fourth Amendment generally requires the police to
obtain a warrant before conducting a search." United
States v. Kelly, 592 F.3d 586, 589 (4th Cir. 2010).
Warrantless searches and seizures are per se
unreasonable, subject to a few well-established exceptions.
Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357 (1967);
Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 459-60 (2011).
Individuals on probation or parole, "despite a reduced
expectation of privacy, " still come "within the
ambit of the fourth amendment's protection against
unreasonable searches and seizures." United States
v. Bradley, 571 F.2d 787, 789 n.2 (4th Cir. 1978).
However, "a condition of release can so diminish or
eliminate a released prisoner's reasonable expectation of
privacy that a suspicionless search by a law enforcement
officer would not offend the Fourth Amendment."
Samson v. California, 547 U.S. 843, 847 (2006).
Fourth Amendment ultimately tests the reasonableness of a
search, including some individualized suspicion, but
"imposes no irreducible requirement of such
suspicion." Maryland v. King, 133 S.Ct. 1958,
1969 (2013) (quoting United States v.
Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 561 (1976)). Warrantless
searches may be reasonable under certain circumstances of
public interest or "because an individual is already on
notice ... because of... the conditions of his release from
government custody." Id. Ultimately, the
"touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness,
not individualized suspicion." Samson, 547 U.S.
at 855 n.4.
United States v. Knights, the Supreme Court upheld a
warrantless search supported by reasonable suspicion of a
probationer who had agreed to warrantless searches as a
condition of probation. 534 U.S. 112 (2001). The Supreme
Court expressly declined to rule on whether a search of a
probationer without individualized suspicion can satisfy the
reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment.
Id., at 120, n.6. The Court also underscored that