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State v. Castellanos

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

September 11, 2018

State of Nebraska, appellee,
v.
Dominic L. Castellanos, appellant.

         1. Constitutional Law: Search and Seizure: Motions to Suppress: Appeal and Error. In reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress based on a claimed violation of the Fourth Amendment, an appellate court applies a two-part standard of review. Regarding historical facts, an appellate court reviews the trial court's findings for clear error, but whether those facts trigger or violate Fourth Amendment protections is a question of law that an appellate court reviews independently of the trial court's determination.

         2. Motions to Suppress: Warrantless Searches: Appeal and Error. In reviewing a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence obtained by a warrantless search under the emergency doctrine, an appellate court employs a two-part standard in which the first part of the analysis involves a review of the historical facts for clear error and a review de novo of the trial court's ultimate conclusion that exigent circumstances were present. Where the facts are largely undisputed, the ultimate question is an issue of law.

         3. Rules of Evidence: Other Acts. An appellate court reviews for abuse of discretion a trial court's evidentiary rulings on the admissibility of a defendant's other crimes or bad acts under Neb. Evid. R. 404(2), Neb. Rev. Stat. § 27-404(2) (Reissue 2016), or under the inextricably intertwined exception to the rule.

         4. Judgments: Words and Phrases. An abuse of discretion occurs when a trial court's decision is based upon reasons that are untenable or unreasonable or if its action is clearly against justice or conscience, reason, and evidence.

         5. Jury Instructions: Proof: Appeal and Error. To establish reversible error from a court's failure to give a requested jury instruction, an appellant has the burden to show that (1) the tendered instruction is a correct [26 Neb.App. 311] statement of the law, (2) the tendered instruction was warranted by the evidence, and (3) the appellant was prejudiced by the court's failure to give the requested instruction.

         6. Jury Instructions: Appeal and Error. It is not error for a trial court to refuse a requested instruction if the substance of the proposed instruction is contained in those instructions actually given.

         7. ___:___. If the instructions given, which are taken as a whole, correctly state the law, are not misleading, and adequately cover the issues submissible to a jury, there is no prejudicial error concerning the instructions and necessitating a reversal.

         8. Search and Seizure: Warrantless Searches. Searches without a valid warrant are per se unreasonable, subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions that must be strictly confined by their justifications.

         9. Search and Seizure: Warrantless Searches: Proof. In the case of a search and seizure conducted without a warrant, the State has the burden of showing the applicability of one or more of the exceptions to the warrant requirement.

         10. Search and Seizure: Warrantless Searches: Police Officers and Sheriffs. In the case of entry into a home, a police officer who has obtained neither an arrest warrant nor a search warrant cannot make a nonconsensual and warrantless entry in the absence of exigent circumstances.

         11. Search and Seizure: Police Officers and Sheriffs: Words and Phrases. The emergency doctrine is a category of exigent circumstances. The elements of the emergency doctrine are that (1) the police must have reasonable grounds to believe there is an immediate need for their assistance for the protection of life or property and (2) there must be some reasonable basis to associate the emergency with the area or place to be searched.

         12. Search and Seizure: Warrantless Searches. The first element of the emergency doctrine considers whether there were reasonable grounds to find an emergency, and the second element considers the reasonableness of the scope of the search.

         13. Constitutional Law: Police Officers and Sheriffs. An action is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, regardless of the individual officer's state of mind, as long as the circumstances viewed, objectively, justify the action.

         14. Police Officers and Sheriffs: Probable Cause. The presence of an emergency, like probable cause, hinges on the reasonable belief of the officers in light of specific facts and the inferences derived therefrom, not whether, in hindsight, one actually existed. [26 Neb.App. 312]

         15. Search and Seizure: Police Officers and Sheriffs: Probable Cause. The first element of the emergency doctrine is similar to probable cause and asks whether the facts available to the officer at the moment of entry warranted a person of reasonable caution to believe that entry was appropriate.

         16. Search Warrants: Affidavits: Probable Cause. Where an affidavit used for the purpose of obtaining a search warrant includes both illegally obtained facts as well as facts derived from independent and lawful sources, a valid search warrant may issue if the lawfully obtained facts, considered by themselves, establish probable cause to issue the warrant; not all evidence obtained is considered fruit of the poisonous tree, and such evidence may be admitted if there is a sufficient independent basis for the discovery of the evidence.

         17. Rules of Evidence: Other Acts. Neb. Evid. R. 404(2), Neb. Rev. Stat. § 27-404(2) (Reissue 2016), does not apply to evidence of a defendant's other crimes or bad acts if the evidence is inextricably intertwined with the charged crime.

         18. ___: ___. Inextricably intertwined evidence includes evidence that forms part of the factual setting of the crime, or evidence that is so blended or connected to the charged crime that proof of the charged crime will necessarily require proof of the other crimes or bad acts, or if the other crimes or bad acts are necessary for the prosecution to present a coherent picture of the charged crime.

         19. Jury Instructions. Whenever an applicable instruction may be taken from the Nebraska Jury Instructions, that instruction is the one which should usually be given to the jury in a criminal case.

         20. Jury Instructions: Appeal and Error. All the jury instructions must be read together, and if, taken as a whole, they correctly state the law, are not misleading, and adequately cover the issues supported by the pleadings and the evidence, there is no prejudicial error necessitating reversal.

          Appeal from the District Court for Lancaster County: Jodi L. Nelson and Darla S. Ideus, Judges.

          Timothy S. Noerrlinger, of Naylor & Rappl Law Office. PC, L.L.O., for appellant.

          Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Nathan A. Liss for appellee.

          Pirtle, Riedmann, and Bishop, Judges.

         [26 Neb.App. ...


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