Iowa Search & Seizure

Iowa case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: Search & Seizure.

State of Iowa v. Patrick Daniel White. IA Search and Seizure

At issue in this Johnson County, Iowa, case was whether there had been a "seizure" of the defendant. A police officer received a report of a hit-and-run accident, and proceeded to the vehicle's registered address. He saw the vehicle parked in the open garage, with the defendant walking toward the house. The officer pulled into the driveway, turned on his lights, and asked the defendant to step off the porch and into the yard. When the defendant hesitated, the officer told him, "I need you to step down here and talk to me, OK?" With his flashlight, the officer indicated where he wanted the defendant to stand. The officer smelled alcohol, and the defendant was charged with felony operating while intoxicated.

The defendant moved to suppress, but the district court held that here had been no seizure. The Iowa Supreme Court disagreed. It concluded that a reasonable person would have felt compelled to step into the yard, given the position of the officer's vehicle, the fact that the lights were on, and the officer's language.

The Supreme Court noted that it took no position on whether the motion to suppress should have been granted. But since the lower court had ruled that there had been no seizure, it remanded the case for the district court to fully analyze the motion to suppress.

No. 14-2014 (Iowa Nov. 18, 2016).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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