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Law School Case Brief

United States v. Barrera - 464 F.3d 496 (5th Cir. 2006)

Rule:

For Fourth Amendment purposes, an arrest warrant founded on probable cause implicitly carries with it the limited authority to enter a dwelling in which a suspect lives when there is reason to believe the suspect is within. 

Facts:

Deputy United States Marshall Ramos attempted to execute an arrest warrant for Jose, a drug trafficker known to carry a weapon. In compiling research on Jose, Ramos discovered that Jose's official address was no longer where Jose lived. Ramos later learned that Jose had been arrested earlier that year at 1209 St. Michael Street and that a bail bondsman through which Jose had made bond confirmed that Jose had given the St. Michael address as his place of residence. Acting fast, the officers surveyed the premises and after confirming more details arrived at the residence and surrounded it. Defendant Juan Barrera, Jose's brother opened the door. Juan was surprised to see the officers and began backing away from the door with his hand behind his back. As Juan stepped backwards, Ramos heard something drop, but was unable to see what it was. Officer Jorge Medina of the Laredo Police Department ("LPD") then advised Juan to step to the side and to identify the item that was dropped. At that point, Officers Medina and Chavez entered the residence without seeking permission and retrieved the firearm from the floor. A search of Juan's residence did not lead the officers to Jose; however, the officers observed what was later determined to be $ 10,000 on Juan's bed and a closed briefcase containing a firearm inside a closet in the bedroom. At that point, Ramos asked Juan if he was on probation or had a criminal history and Juan advised Ramos that he was on probation for attempted murder. Thereafter, Juan was indicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. At trial in federal district court he filed a motion o suppress the evidence that formed the basis for his arrest, arguing that, by entering his home without a warrant for his arrest, probable cause, or other lawful authority, law enforcement officers violated his FourthFifthSixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court denied Juan's motion to suppress and sentenced him to 57 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Issue:

Was the conviction proper?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The appellate court affirmed defendant's conviction. The court concurred with the district court and held that the officers reasonably believed that Jose lived at defendant's address because Jose had been arrested there before and had given its address as his place of residence to a bail bondsman and because several cars that Jose was known to drive were parked around the residence.

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