State v. Dupree

State v. Dupree, 2015 MT 103 (April 14, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly denied Dupree’s motion to suppress evidence found in the search of her purse, and (2) whether the district court improperly altered its oral pronouncement in the written judgment.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes. 

Affirmed (1) and reversed (2)

Facts: A Havre police officer and drug task force member received a call from a border patrol agent advising him he had received a call from an Amtrak agent saying Billie Rae Dupree would be leaving the train station later that day with drugs in her possession. The officers went to the station, approached Dupree and identified themselves, and told her about the tip they had received. She said she was expecting them, as her boyfriend and she had gotten into an argument and he told her he would be calling the police. They asked if she would sign a consent form allowing them to search her luggage, and she said yes. They asked if she would accompany them to a back room for the search, and she agreed. When they got there, she asked what would happen if she declined to consent. The officers explained they would hold her until they got a dog to sniff her luggage. Dupree consented and the officers searched her bags.

The officers found three prescription pills in unmarked containers in her purse, which Dupree said were Xanax. The officers seized the pills and allowed Dupree to depart. After obtaining an investigative subpoena of Dupree’s medical records, the officers confirmed she had never been prescribed Xanax and identified the pills as Oxycodone.

Procedural Posture & Holding: Dupree was charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs, and Dupree moved to suppress the evidence on the basis of lack of particularized suspicion and involuntary consent. The district court denied the motion, and Dupree appeals. The Supreme Court affirms the denial of the suppression motion and reverses for entry of an amended judgment that conforms to the oral pronouncement.

Reasoning: (1) Dupree’s initial encounter with the officers was a routine police encounter for which no particularized suspicion was needed. Information gathered from Dupree during that encounter not only lent credibility to the tip, it constituted particularized suspicion for an investigatory stop, which occurred when they went to the back room. Because the officers lawfully conducted an investigatory stop based on particularized suspicion, the officers were empowered to detain Dupree until the canine unit arrived.

(2) At the oral pronouncement, the court sentenced Dupree to five years at the women’s prison with three suspended, plus fees, fines, and surcharges to paid in full within six months of placement on community supervision. In the written sentence, however, it said all fines and fees were to be paid within six months of sentencing. The state concedes this issue and agrees it should be remanded for entry of an amended judgment.