US v. Michael Miller


UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 1:15-cr-00368-CCE-1 Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. [1000030113].. [16-4336]

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Appeal: 16-4336 Doc: 38 Filed: 02/24/2017 Pg: 1 of 6 UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 16-4336 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff – Appellee, v. MICHAEL SCOTT MILLER, Defendant - Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, at Greensboro. Catherine C. Eagles, District Judge. (1:15-cr-00368-CCE-1) Submitted: January 19, 2017 Decided: February 24, 2017 Before TRAXLER, WYNN, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Louis C. Allen, Federal Public Defender, John A. Duberstein, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellant. Ripley Rand, United States Attorney, Frank J. Chut, Jr., Assistant United States Attorney, Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. Appeal: 16-4336 Doc: 38 Filed: 02/24/2017 Pg: 2 of 6 PER CURIAM: Michael Scott Miller pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a bank employee in negotiating a counterfeit check, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014 (2012); aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1) (2012); production of counterfeit currency, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 471 (2012); and possession with intent to use and transfer unlawfully false § 1028(a)(3) identification, (2012), conditioned in on violation his right of to district court’s denial of his suppression motion. 18 U.S.C. appeal the The district court sentenced Miller to 75 months of imprisonment and he now appeals. Finding no error, we affirm. Miller challenges suppression motion. the district court’s denial of his “We review the factual findings underlying a motion to suppress for clear error and the district court’s legal determinations de novo.” 226, 233 (4th Cir. 2012). United States v. Davis, 690 F.3d When the district court has denied a defendant’s suppression motion, we construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the government. Here, employee officers observed were called stacks of to what Id. a motel appeared after to a motel be uncut counterfeit currency through the window of Miller’s motel room; upon arrival, the officers were able to see the currency as well. One of the officers knocked on the door and announced his 2 Appeal: 16-4336 Doc: 38 Filed: 02/24/2017 Pg: 3 of 6 presence, after which the curtain was closed and the officers heard mumbling and rustling in the room. An officer then entered the room to secure it, while the other officer left to obtain a search warrant. In denying Miller’s suppression motion, the district court determined that the need to prevent destruction of evidence justified the officer’s warrantless entry. The Fourth Amendment generally bars police from entering a home without a warrant. (2011). See Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 460 The expectation of privacy enjoyed by occupants of a home extends to guests of hotel or motel rooms. States v. Warrantless Stevenson, entry 396 into a F.3d home 538, or 546 motel (4th room See United Cir. is 2005). permitted, however, when exigent circumstances exist, including the need to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence. See United States v. Taylor, 624 F.3d 626, 631 (4th Cir. 2010). Thus, “where police officers (1) have probable cause to believe that evidence of illegal activity is present, and (2) reasonably believe that evidence may be destroyed or removed before they could obtain a warrant,” they may enter without a warrant. United States v. Moses, 540 F.3d 263, 269 (4th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). In determining whether exigent circumstances support a warrantless entry, a court should consider: 3 exist to Appeal: 16-4336 Doc: 38 Filed: 02/24/2017 Pg: 4 of 6 1) the degree of urgency involved and the amount of time necessary to obtain a warrant; (2) the officers’ reasonable belief that the contraband is about to be removed or destroyed; (3) the possibility of danger to police guarding the site; (4) information indicating the possessors of the contraband are aware that the police are on their trail; and (5) the ready destructibility of the contraband. United States v. Yengel, 711 F.3d 392, 397 (4th Cir. 2013). The inquiry the police focuses need on not the officers’ produce concrete danger of being destroyed. making this determination reasonable proof that belief, and evidence Moses, 540 F.3d at 270. “should not engage in is in Courts unreasonable second-guessing of the officers’ assessment of the circumstances that they faced.” Figg v. Schroeder, 312 F.3d 625, 639 (4th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks omitted). Here, the officers had probable cause to believe that the motel room contained evidence of illegal activity based on their observation curtain. of the counterfeit currency through the open When they knocked on the door to the room, someone closed the curtain, cutting off their view of that evidence, and rustling and mumbling could be heard. At that point, officers knew that there was at least one person in the room and that he was now aware the police were “on his trail.” F.3d at 397. See Yengel, 711 And because the officers could no longer see the currency through the window and heard movement in the room, they 4 Appeal: 16-4336 Doc: 38 Filed: 02/24/2017 Pg: 5 of 6 had an objectively reasonable belief that the currency could be destroyed before they could secure a warrant. Miller also argues that if exigent circumstances existed, the officers manufactured announcing their presence. the exigency by knocking and Police may not rely on the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement if they have created or manufactured the exigency. However, where “the police did not King, 563 U.S. at 461. create the exigency by engaging or threatening to engage in conduct that violates the Fourth Amendment, warrantless entry to prevent the destruction of evidence is reasonable and thus allowed.” Id. at 462. There is no police-created exigency “[w]hen law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door.” Id. at 469. Here, the officers did no more than knock on the door and announce their presence. This was not an actual or threatened violation of the Fourth Amendment. See United States v. Brown, 701 F.3d 120, 126 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing King and noting that when police announce their presence, creating immediate fear of detection by defendant, police prevent destruction of evidence). may still act reasonably to We conclude, therefore, that the police did not create the exigency. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court. We dispense with oral argument 5 because the facts and legal Appeal: 16-4336 Doc: 38 contentions are Filed: 02/24/2017 adequately Pg: 6 of 6 presented in the materials before this court and argument would not aid in the decisional process. AFFIRMED 6

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