Supreme Court of the State of Washington 

Opinion Information Sheet


Docket Number: 77484-6
Title of Case: State v. Moore
File Date: 10/11/2007
Oral Argument Date: 05/18/2006


SOURCE OF APPEAL
----------------
Appeal from Snohomish County Superior Court
03-1-01007-8
Honorable James H Allendoerfer

COUNSEL OF RECORD
-----------------

Counsel for Petitioner(s)
Susan F Wilk
Washington Appellate Project
1511 3rd Ave Ste 701
Seattle, WA, 98101-3635

Counsel for Respondent(s)
Thomas Marshal Curtis
Snohomish County Pros Ofc
3000 Rockefeller Ave # 504
Everett, WA, 98201-4060





IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON

STATE OF WASHINGTON, )
)
Respondent, ) No. 77484-6
)
v. ) En Banc
)
ALEX UNDRAE PAUL MOORE, )
) Filed October 11, 2007
Petitioner. )
)

OWENS, J. -- Alex Undrae Paul Moore appeals his conviction for possession

of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver, contending that the

trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence discovered in a search

incident to his arrest. We agree and hold that the evidence is inadmissible. We

reverse the Court of Appeals and remand to the trial court.

Facts

According to the trial court's unchallenged findings of fact, on April 27, 2003,

Everett Police Officer Jamie French stopped a vehicle in which Moore was a

passenger. Officer French recognized Moore from a previous encounter but could not

State v. Moore
No. 77484-6

recall his name. When asked, Moore told Officer French that his name was "Antoine

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No. 77484-6

Carver." Clerk's Papers (CP) at 53. Officer French suspected that Antoine Carver

was not Moore's true name. During the stop, Officer French observed a pit bull sitting

on Moore's lap in the backseat. She arrested Moore for having a dangerous dog

outside of an enclosure in violation of Everett Municipal Code sections 6.08.010(B)-

(C) and .015. She also arrested Moore for "Refusal to Give Information/Cooperate

with an officer." Id. at 54. A second officer at the scene then searched Moore and

found cocaine, methadone pills, and approximately $800 in cash. Later that same day,

Officer French filed a supplemental report mentioning that she had noticed that none

of the passengers were wearing seatbelts when she approached the vehicle. Id. at 73.

The State charged Moore with possession of a controlled substance with intent

to manufacture or deliver. Before trial, Moore moved to suppress the evidence

discovered in the search on the grounds that his arrest was unlawful. The trial court

held that Officer French did not have probable cause to arrest Moore for having a

dangerous dog outside of an enclosure because the car constituted a suitable enclosure.

Report of Proceedings (RP) (Apr. 23, 2004) at 52. The court also deemed that

probable cause did not exist to arrest Moore for refusal to give information/cooperate

with an officer because "[g]iving false identification is not a crime in and of itself

unless the person is being stopped and charged with a traffic infraction." Id. at 50.

The court explained:

In this case, Officer French hadn't identified any traffic infraction that

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State v. Moore
No. 77484-6

[Moore] was being investigated on, and instead, apparently, was under
the impression if you give false identification under any circumstance
you're committing a misdemeanor. She's simply wrong on that case.

. . . Mr. Moore had no obligation to give his name in the first
place, and so to arrest him for giving a wrong name is inappropriate.

Id. at 50-51. Nonetheless, the trial court held the arrest was valid, ruling that a

"hidden reason" supported Moore's arrest. Id. at 53. Based on Officer French's

observation that Moore was not wearing a seatbelt and belief that Moore provided

false identification, the trial court reasoned that "[t]he officers didn't arrest Mr. Moore

for a seat belt violation, but, in hindsight, it appears that they could have." Id. at 54.

The court thus concluded that Officer French "had lawful authority to ask the

defendant his name for committing the traffic infraction of a seatbelt violation" and

that "when the defendant provided a false name to them, officers then had probable

cause to arrest" him for failing to identify himself pursuant to an investigation of a

traffic infraction under former RCW 46.61.021(3) (1997).1 CP at 59. The court

upheld the search and denied Moore's motion to suppress. Id. at 60.

During a bench trial, the court found Moore guilty of possessing a controlled

substance with intent to manufacture or deliver. Moore appealed and the Court of

1 Under this provision, "[a]ny person requested to identify himself or herself to a law
enforcement officer pursuant to an investigation of a traffic infraction has a duty to
identify himself or herself, give his or her current address, and sign an acknowledgement
of receipt of the notice of infraction." Former RCW 46.61.021(3). Violation of RCW
46.61.021(3) is a misdemeanor. RCW 46.61.022.

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State v. Moore
No. 77484-6

Appeals affirmed. State v. Moore, noted at 128 Wn. App. 1017, 2005 Wash. App.

LEXIS 1523, at *2. We granted Moore's petition for review at 156 Wn.2d 1023, 132

P.3d 1094 (2006).

Issue

Was the search incident to Moore's arrest lawful under article I, section 7 of the

Washington Constitution?

Analysis

Standard of Review. Moore does not challenge the trial court's findings of fact.

We therefore view these findings as verities. See State v. Levy, 156 Wn.2d 709, 733,

132 P.3d 1076 (2006) (citing State v. O'Neill, 148 Wn.2d 564, 571, 62 P.3d 489

(2003)). Instead, Moore challenges the trial court's conclusion that the evidence

obtained in the search was admissible. We review this conclusion of law de novo. See

id. (citing State v. Mendez, 137 Wn.2d 208, 214, 970 P.2d 722 (1999), abrogated by

Brendlin v. California, 127 S. Ct. 2400, 168 L. Ed 2d 132 (2007)).

Search Incident to Arrest. The Washington Constitution mandates that "[n]o

person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority

of law." Wash. Const. art. I, ยง 7. In contrast to the Fourth Amendment to the United

States Constitution, the article I, section 7 provision "recognizes a person's right to

privacy with no express limitations." O'Neill, 148 Wn.2d at 584. A warrantless

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State v. Moore
No. 77484-6

search is per se unreasonable unless it falls within one of the few narrowly drawn

exceptions. State v. Parker, 139 Wn.2d 486, 496, 987 P.2d 73 (1999).

"[T]he search incident to arrest exception to the warrant requirement is

narrower" under article I, section 7 than under the Fourth Amendment. O'Neill, 148

Wn.2d at 584. Under the Washington Constitution, a lawful custodial arrest is a

constitutional prerequisite to any search incident to arrest. Id. at 587. The lawfulness

of an arrest stands on the determination of whether probable cause supports the arrest.

State v. Potter, 156 Wn.2d 835, 840, 132 P.3d 1089 (2006). Probable cause exists

when the arresting officer has "knowledge of facts sufficient to cause a reasonable

[officer] to believe that an offense has been committed" at the time of the arrest. Id.

In the instant case, officers searched Moore without a warrant, incident to his

arrest for having a dangerous dog outside of an enclosure and for refusal to give

information/cooperate with an officer. The State does not challenge the trial court's

finding that probable cause does not support either of these bases for Moore's arrest.

The State nonetheless argues that Officer French had additional probable cause to

support an arrest of Moore for violating former RCW 46.61.021(3), which provides in

pertinent part that "[a]ny person requested to identify himself or herself to a law

enforcement officer pursuant to an investigation of a traffic infraction has a duty to

identify himself or herself." (Emphasis added.)

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State v. Moore
No. 77484-6

The record does not support the State's argument that Officer French conducted

an "investigation" of the seatbelt violation. The crime of failing to correctly identify

one's self under RCW 46.61.021(3) requires more than the mere observation of a

traffic infraction and an unrelated request for identification. Rather, the officer must

ask the individual for identification pursuant to an investigation of a traffic infraction.

Officer French did not cite any passengers for the seatbelt violation and only

mentioned her observation that the passengers were not wearing seatbelts in a

supplemental report. Officer French also clarified at a subsequent hearing that she did

not ask Moore for his name pursuant to an investigation of the seatbelt infraction. RP

(Apr. 9, 2004) at 41, 45-46. Based on the objective fact that Officer French was not

investigating the seatbelt infraction, a reasonable officer would not have concluded

that Moore violated former RCW 46.61.021(3) by failing to correctly identify himself

pursuant to an investigation of a traffic infraction. Accordingly, we conclude that

probable cause does not support Moore's arrest.

Conclusion

Officer French did not have probable cause to arrest Moore for failure to

identify himself in violation of former RCW 46.61.021(3). Therefore, the arrest and

search were unlawful under article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution and the

evidence obtained during the search is inadmissible. We reverse the Court of Appeals

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No. 77484-6

and remand.

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No. 77484-6

AUTHOR:

Justice Susan Owens

WE CONCUR:

Chief Justice Gerry L. Alexander Justice Tom Chambers

Justice Charles W. Johnson

Justice Richard B. Sanders Justice James M. Johnson