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State v. Witherrite

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

December 9, 2014

The State of Washington, Respondent ,
v.
Joan P. Witherrite, Appellant

Appeal from Walla Walla Superior Court. Docket No: 12-1-00096-1. Judge signing: Honorable Marshall Scott Wolfram. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 05/23/2013.

Kenneth H. Kato, for appellant.

James L. Nagle, Prosecuting Attorney, and Teresa J. Chen, Deputy, for respondent.

Concurring: George B. Fearing. Author: Robert E. Lawrence-Berrey

OPINION

[184 Wn.App. 860] Kevin M. Korsmo, J.

[¶1] Joan Witherrite challenges her three convictions for violating the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, chapter 69.50 RCW, arguing that she did not properly consent to the search of her car because an automobile should be treated in the same manner as a home. The trial court concluded that she gave informed consent to the search. As the record supports that determination and our case law does not support her request for stronger consent warnings, we affirm.

FACTS

[¶2] A deputy sheriff stopped Ms. Witherrite for a traffic violation and had her perform field sobriety tests. The deputy then received permission to search Ms. Witherrite's car after advising her that at any time she could stop or limit the scope of the search. The deputy did not tell her that she had the right to refuse consent.

[¶3] The vehicle search turned up marijuana, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia. The prosecutor ultimately charged the associated crimes for each of those items. She moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that her consent was invalid due to the absence of the warnings required by State v. Ferrier, 136 Wn.2d 103, 960 P.2d 927 (1998). The trial court disagreed, concluding that Ferrier did not extend to vehicles and that Ms. Witherrite had consented to the search.

[¶4] Ms. Witherrite then submitted to a stipulated facts trial. The court found her guilty as charged and imposed standard range sentence terms. Ms. Witherrite then timely appealed to this court.

ANALYSIS

[¶5] The sole issue[1] presented by this appeal is Ms. Witherrite's contention that her consent to the search was [184 Wn.App. 861] invalid because it was not the heightened standard required by Ferrier. She asks us to extend Ferrier to vehicle searches. Since the Washington Supreme Court has expressly declined to extend Ferrier outside of the " knock and talk" fact pattern and has distinguished vehicles from homes in prior search cases, and we have rejected that argument in a factually

Page 993

similar circumstance, we decline her ...


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