Case Note: State v. Chrisman

In State v. Chrisman, the Washington Supreme Court confronted a situation where an officer made a warrantless misdemeanor arrest and then without a warrant, followed the arrestee into his private premises. As a result of the entry, the officer discovered contraband. The defendant was charged and convicted of possession of the contraband, a felony. The court held that following a misdemeanor arrest, a police officer is not entitled to accompany the arrestee into his private premises unless there are exigent circumstances – a threat to the officer’s safety, the possibility of destruction of evidence, or a strong likelihood of escape. Carl Overdahl, carrying half-gallon container of gin, was stopped and questioned by a Washington State University police officer outside Overdahl’s dormitory. The officer, suspecting Overdahl was under age, requested identification. Overdahl replied that his identification was in his dormitory room. The officer allowed Overdahl to retrieve his identification and accompanied the student to his room on the eleventh floor. While standing in the doorway, the officer noticed Overdahl’s roommate, Chrisman, acting nervously; he then observed seeds and a pipe lying on a desk approximately 8-10 feet distant. The officer approached the desk and examined the seeds and pipe, confirming his suspicion that the items were contraband. The officer informed both students of their Miranda rights and asked if there was more contraband. Three baggies of marijuana were handed to the officer, who then radioed for another officer. After the second officer arrived, Overdahl and Chrisman were informed that a search of their room was necessary and that the search could be conducted via their consent or after a search warrant had been obtained. The students consented to a search which uncovered LSD and more marijuana.

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Margie Harris, Case Note: State v. Chrisman, 19 Gonz. L. Rev. 763 (1984).

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