Law School Case Brief
People v. Bonilla - 2018 IL 122484, 427 Ill. Dec. 863, 120 N.E.3d 930
The prime purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter future unlawful police conduct and thereby effectuate the guarantee of the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures. The good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule is a judicially created rule providing that evidence obtained in violation of a defendant's Fourth Amendment rights will not be suppressed when the police acted with an objectively reasonable good-faith belief that their conduct was lawful, or when their conduct involved only simple, isolated negligence.
Defendant-appellee Bonilla lived in an apartment at Pheasant Ridge Apartment Complex in Moline, Illinois. The East Moline Police Department received a tip that he was selling drugs from his apartment. Acting on that tip, officers brought a trained drug-detection dog to defendant's apartment building. The exterior doors to the apartment building were not locked. Once inside the building, Moline canine officer Genisio walked his drug-detection dog through the second-floor common area. The dog showed no interest in the second-floor common area and did not alert on any of the apartment thresholds. Officer Genisio then walked his dog through the third-floor common area. The dog showed no interest in units 301, 302, or 303. As the dog came to Bonilla's apartment, unit 304, however, it moved back and forth in the doorway, sniffed at the bottom of the door, and signaled a positive alert for the presence of narcotics. Officers obtained a search warrant for defendant's apartment based on the drug-detection dog's alert. Officers searched his apartment and found cannabis. Bonilla was later arrested and charged with unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver. Bonilla filed a motion to suppress, which the trial court granted. It held that "it would just be unfair to say you can't come up on a person who lives in a single family residence and sniff his door but you can go into someone's hallway and sniff their door if they happen to live in an apartment." The appellate court affirmed.
Did the warrantless use of a drug-detection dog at the threshold of an apartment door, located on the third floor of an unlocked apartment building containing four apartments on each floor, violate defendant's Fourth Amendment rights?
The question of law at issue in this appeal is whether the warrantless use of a drug-detection dog at the threshold of an apartment door, located on the third floor of an unlocked apartment building containing four apartments on each floor, violated defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court of Illinois explained that on appeal, it gives great deference to a trial court's findings of fact when ruling on a motion to suppress and will reverse the trial court's findings of fact only if they are against the manifest weight of the evidence. However, the trial court's legal ruling on whether the evidence should be suppressed is reviewed de novo. The Court affirmed the judgment. he only evidence to support issuance of the search warrant was the search warrant itself and the affidavit. It was inconceivable that the State would expect the Court to review the propriety of the trial court's ruling on defendant's motion to suppress evidence without providing a copy of the documents that were considered by the trial court in making its ruling. Accordingly, any doubts that may arise from the incompleteness of the record were resolved against the State, as the appellant.
The Court held that where defendant was charged with unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, the trial court properly granted his motion to suppress because the officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by physically intruding on the curtilage of defendant's apartment to conduct a dog sniff of the threshold. The Court held that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule was not applicable because appellant State did not cite any binding appellate decision that was available at the time of the incident specifically authorizing the warrantless search.
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