The first ripple effect of an Idaho Supreme Court decision on warrantless arrests has appeared in a felony case in the Wood River Valley. The attorney for the defendant in the case was granted a motion to withdraw a guilty plea based on a decision handed down by the court took on June 12.
Bellevue resident Miguel Patlan-Baeza was arrested on Nov. 12 on four charges: felony possession of cocaine and three misdemeanors for violation of a domestic-violence protection order, resisting or obstructing officers and possession of drug paraphernalia. The cocaine was found following a warrantless misdemeanor arrest for violation of the protection order.
The protection order was issued by Magistrate Judge Jennifer Haemmerle on Sept. 21, ordering Patlan-Baeza to stay away from his ex-wife and their two children.
In a motion to withdraw a guilty plea filed by Patlan-Baeza’s defense attorney, Michael Donovan, on June 13, the day after the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement could not make a warrantless arrest for a misdemeanor crime that they did not witness, Donovan argued that the court’s decision “provides the Defendant with grounds for suppression of the evidence in this case.”
Oral arguments on the motion were heard on Tuesday by 5th District Judge Jonathan Brody, who granted the motion based on the fact that at the time that Patlan-Baeza agreed to the plea deal, his defense attorney had no legal defenses against the search and seizure that led to the charges. At the time, Donovan argued, they were relying on state code that allowed arrests for misdemeanor violations of no-contact orders without a warrant and without the officer having witnessed the incident. Once arrested for the misdemeanor violation, officers found a glass pipe with burn marks on one end and white powder in the stem. Officers also found a plastic bag containing white powder that tested presumptive positive for cocaine resulting in the felony charge.
Prosecuting attorney Matt Fredback argued that upon signing a guilty plea, Patlan-Baeza gave up certain rights, and that he signed the plea deal willingly. However, Donovan responded by arguing that his client signed a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and violations of a protection order under the assumption that he had been afforded all his constitutional rights. He said the Supreme Court’s opinion that state code overstepped the state and U.S. Constitutions meant that Patlan-Baeza was arrested and searched against his constitutional rights.
Brody agreed with the defense and granting the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. In discussing what the next steps for the case would be, Donovan told the court that he would be filing a motion to suppress evidence that was found following his client’s illegal arrest.
In a separate case, Patlan-Baeza is charged with possession of methamphetamine and violation of a protection order against the same people. Patlan-Baeza’s ex-wife showed evidence of her ex-husband contacting her via text message and social media and driving past her work between December and January, which her co-workers also witnessed. Donovan is also representing him in this case and has filed for a motion to suppress evidence, stating that the methamphetamine found on his client was discovered after an unlawful arrest for a violation of protection order that police did not witness and did not obtain a warrant for.