FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Alisa A.
Hadfield, District Judge.
H. Balderas, Attorney General Santa Fe, NM John Kloss,
Assistant Attorney General Albuquerque, NM for Appellee
Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Santa Fe, NM Steven J.
Forsberg, Assistant Appellate Defender Albuquerque, NM for
MICHAEL E. VIGIL, Judge.
Pursuant to a conditional plea agreement, Defendant appeals
his conviction of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
See NMSA 1978, § 66-8-102(D) (2010, amended
2016). Defendant argues that the district court erred in
affirming the metropolitan court's denial of his motion
to suppress evidence, raising two issues on appeal: (1)
whether the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to
initiate an investigatory stop, and (2) whether the legality
of Defendant's seizure should be judged by the higher
probable cause standard. We affirm.
Charged with aggravated DWI in the Bernalillo County
Metropolitan Court under Section 66-8-102(D), Defendant filed
a motion to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of his
detention by Deputy Trevor Weeks of the Bernalillo County
Sheriff's Department (BCSO). Judge Sandra Engel held an
evidentiary hearing on the motion, in which Deputy Weeks, the
only witness, gave the following account.
At 6:55 p.m., the BCSO dispatch received the initial 911 call
regarding "a disorderly subject." The caller was a
woman who had dated Defendant for two weeks, and reported
that Defendant was "banging on her door" and
sliding notes under it. She told the 911 operator that
Defendant was wearing shorts and no shirt, and drove a black
Ford F-150 truck, a Harley Davidson edition. Two minutes
after the 911 call, Deputy Weeks was dispatched to the
apartment complex where the caller lived. The information
provided to Deputy Weeks did not allege any violence by
Defendant against the caller. Nevertheless, given his
experience on similar calls in the past, Deputy Weeks
considered that there was the potential for violence in this
Deputy Weeks was later informed by dispatch that the caller
made a subsequent call at 7:08 p.m. to report that Defendant
was leaving the apartment complex in his vehicle. At 7:10
p.m., Deputy Weeks arrived at the apartment complex and
observed a black Ford F-150 truck, Harley Davidson edition,
being driven towards the only point of entry or exit out of
the gated community by a shirtless man. Based on information
provided by dispatch, Deputy Weeks reasonably believed
Defendant to be the person reported by the caller and stopped
Defendant to investigate. The stop resulted in Defendant
being arrested and charged with aggravated DWI.
Judge Engel denied the motion to suppress on the basis that
Deputy Weeks had a reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant and
investigate based on the information he received from
dispatch. The judge noted, "In this case . . . the
caller was asking for help. I think that that raises this to
a different level by calling 911 . . . it was her saying
there is a man continuing to knock on my door that I used to
be in a relationship with and common sense would tell me that
this was something that needed to be investigated."
Following the denial of the motion to suppress, Defendant
entered into a conditional plea of guilty for a first offense
of non-aggravated DWI under Section 66-8-102, while reserving
the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress.
Defendant then appealed to the district court. See
NMSA 1978, § 34-8A-6(C) (1993) ("Any party
aggrieved by a judgment rendered by the metropolitan court in
a criminal action involving driving while under the influence
of intoxicating liquors or drugs . . . may appeal to the
district court of the county in which the metropolitan court
is located[.]"). The district court affirmed Judge
Engel's metropolitan court order denying Defendant's
motion to suppress. The district court determined that based
on "the totality of the circumstances, Deputy Weeks had
a reasonable and particularized suspicion [that Defendant]
had harassed the 911-caller and broken the law."
Defendant now appeals to this Court, this time from the order
issued by the district court. See NMSA 1978, §
39-3-3(A) (1972) (granting a defendant the right to appeal
from a final order entered by the district court in a
criminal proceeding); NMSA 1978, § 34-5-8(A)(3) (1983)
(providing that the court of appeals has jurisdiction to
review on appeal all criminal actions except those in which a
sentence of death or life imprisonment is imposed).
"A motion to suppress evidence involves a mixed question
of fact and law." State v. Vandenberg,
2003-NMSC-030, ¶ 17, 134 N.M. 566, 81 P.3d 19.
"Thus, our review of this case involves two parts: the
first is a factual question, which we review for substantial
evidence; the second is a legal question, which we review de
novo." Id. "We view the facts in the
manner most favorable to the prevailing party and defer to
the district court's findings of fact if substantial
evidence exists to support those findings." State v.
Urioste, 2002-NMSC-023, ¶ 6, 132 N.M. 592, ...