United States v. Azua-Rinconada (P)

The district court didn’t clearly err in finding that law enforcement officers had the defendant’s voluntary consent to enter his residence, and he was not in custody when he voluntarily answered their questions.

Despite one officer’s command before entry to “open the door or we’re going to knock it down,” the statement in context didn’t fatally infect the voluntariness of the consent. Video footage convincingly shows that the defendant’s fiancée opened the door, that officers conversed with her in a calm, casual manner, and that she freely and with a degree of graciousness invited the officers in. Thus, their entry didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment.

The totality of the circumstances also supports the conclusion that the defendant was not in custody when questioned in his residence. For most of the interaction, he sat where he chose to sit, and the officers’ language, demeanor, and actions were calm and nonthreatening; tenor of the interaction remained conversational. While the defendant was undoubtedly intimidated during the interaction by having police in his home, that intimidation appeared no greater than the level characteristic of police questioning generally.

Affirmed. Judge Keenan wrote a concurring opinion.

United States v. Azua-Rinconada (P), No. 17-4344, Jan. 28, 2019. 4th Cir. (Niemeyer) from EDNC at Wilmington (Flanagan).

Categories: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Opinions, Published

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