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U.S. v. INGRAM

August 24, 2001

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
V.
ROHAN INGRAM, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kahn, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM — DECISION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court are Defendant's Motions to Suppress Evidence and Dismiss Count Three of the Superseding Indictment. For the reasons stated herein, these motions are DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Border Patrol Agent Labounty soon joined agent Dunbar at the hotel. As the two agents approached Ingram's room they saw a male walking down the hall. The agents approached the man, identified themselves, and asked him for identification. The man stated that he was Rohan Ingram and told the agents that he was from Canada. After producing a Canadian driver's license for identification, Ingram was placed under arrest.

The Agents then asked Ingram who else was in the hotel room since they heard voices coming from his room. Ingram did not answer so the Agent's knocked on the room's door. Ann-Marie Richardson answered. Agent Dunbar asked her for identification. Richardson turned and walked across the hotel room toward a bag to retrieve her identification. Agent Dunbar followed her inside the room. As he walked past the bathroom he saw a box labeled "Firearms" inside an open duffle bag. The bag contained approximately 13 handguns. Agent Dunbar placed Richardson in custody. Subsequently, Ingram provided a signed, written statement to federal law enforcement officials.

Defendant Ingram now seeks to suppress all evidence seized from the hotel room on February 16, 2001 and his written statement to federal law enforcement officials. Defendant argues that the Agents' actions constituted an unlawful search and seizure in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. An evidentiary hearing was held before the Court on July 3, 2001 and July 9, 2001, and the parties submitted memorandums of law in support of their positions. Defendant Ingram also moves to dismiss Count Three of the Indictment because his predicate conviction is from a foreign jurisdiction.

There are three questions the Court must answer if the Government is to be allowed to use the evidence discovered in Defendant's hotel room. The preliminary question is whether Agents Dunbar and Labounty had probable cause to arrest Defendant. Second, did the agents have the right to enter Defendant's hotel room? Third, did the agents have the right to seize the evidence once inside the hotel room? Whether Defendant's written statement is admissible turns on whether Defendant was properly Mirandized. Lastly, the issue of Count Three depends on whether a conviction from a foreign jurisdiction may serve as a predicate offense for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).

II. ANALYSIS

A. Fourth Amendment

1. Probable Cause to Arrest

Law enforcement officers may lawfully arrest persons without an arrest warrant under certain circumstances. A warrantless arrest is permitted when an officer has probable cause to believe the arrestee has committed a felony. See United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411, 418, 96 S.Ct. 820, 46 L.Ed.2d 598 (1976). Probable cause to make a warrantless arrest exists when at the time of the arrest "the facts and circumstances within the [officer's] knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information were sufficient to warrant a prudent man in believing that the [Defendant] had committed or was committing an offense." Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 91, 85 S.Ct. 223, 13 L.Ed.2d 142 (1964); Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 479, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963).

Defendant argues that the evidence found in his hotel room is the inadmissible fruit of an unconstitutional arrest. In the case at hand the Agents had probable cause to arrest Ingram based on the criminal background check run through TECS. The background check revealed that Ingram was not a citizen of the United States and had a criminal record in Canada, including multiple convictions for firearms offenses. Ingram was therefore, illegally present in the United States. This information gave the Agents probable cause to arrest him. ...


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