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State v. Lar

Supreme Court of South Dakota

February 21, 2018

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
HI TA LAR, Defendant and Appellant.

          Considered On Briefs On April 24, 2017

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT BEADLE COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE JON R. ERICKSON Judge

          MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General CAROLINE A. SRSTKA Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

          DAVID K. WHEELER Huron, South Dakota Attorney for defendant and appellant.

          GILBERTSON, Chief Justice.

         [¶1.] Hi Ta Lar appeals his conviction and sentence for unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance (methamphetamine). Law enforcement required Lar to produce a urine sample without first obtaining his consent or a warrant. Lar argues the circuit court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence produced through chemical analysis of the sample. We reverse and remand.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2.] On January 26, 2015, at approximately 10:55 p.m., Lar was a passenger in the rear seat of a vehicle that was stopped for an inoperable headlight. Due to the driver's nervous appearance, law enforcement deployed a drug dog, which indicated a controlled substance was present in the vehicle. Law enforcement searched the vehicle and discovered a metal pipe and 0.498 ounce of marijuana in a seat pocket behind the front passenger seat. No controlled substances were found on Lar. Lar, the driver of the vehicle, and two other passengers were subsequently arrested for possession of two ounces or less of marijuana and for possession of drug paraphernalia.

         [¶3.] Following the arrest, law enforcement required Lar to provide a urine sample. An officer watched Lar urinate into a specimen cup. Law enforcement did not obtain a warrant or Lar's consent prior to doing so. Subsequent testing by the State Health Lab detected metabolites of methamphetamine in Lar's urine. Lar filed a motion to suppress the results of the urinalysis, but the circuit court denied the motion. In total, Lar faced one count of possessing two ounces or less of marijuana in violation of SDCL 22-42-6, one count of unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance in violation of SDCL 22-42-5.1, and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia in violation of SDCL 22-42A-3.

         [¶4.] Lar agreed to waive his right to a jury trial on the ingestion charge in exchange for the State dismissing the possession charges. A court trial was held on June 14, 2016. The court found Lar guilty of unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance. On August 9, the court sentenced Lar to imprisonment for three years.[1]

         [¶5.] Lar appeals, raising one issue: Whether law enforcement may, without a warrant, require an arrestee to provide a urine sample as a search incident to arrest.

         Standard of Review

         [¶6.] "Constitutional interpretation is a question of law reviewable de novo." Kraft v. Meade Cty. ex rel. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 2006 S.D. 113, ¶ 2, 726 N.W.2d 237, 239 (quoting Steinkruger v. Miller, 2000 S.D. 83, ¶ 8, 612 N.W.2d 591, 595). "[W]e review the circuit court's factual findings for clear error but 'give no deference to the circuit court's conclusions of law.'" State v. Medicine, 2015 S.D. 45, ¶ 5, 865 N.W.2d 492, 495 (quoting State v. Walter, 2015 S.D. 37, ¶ 6, 864 N.W.2d 779, 782).

         Analysis and Decision

         [¶7.] The U.S. Constitution protects "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures[.]" U.S. Const. amend. IV; see also S.D. Const. art. VI, § 11. "As the text makes clear, 'the ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is "reasonableness."'" Riley v. California, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 134 S.Ct. 2473, 2482, 189 L.Ed.2d 430 (2014) (quoting Brigham City v. Stuart, 547 U.S. 398, 403, 126 S.Ct. 1943, 1947, 164 L.Ed.2d 650 (2006)). "[S]earches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment . . . ." Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 338, 129 S.Ct. 1710, 1716, 173 L.Ed.2d 485 (2009) (quoting Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 514, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 ...


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