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People v. Sandoval

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Fifth Division

February 11, 2016

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Miguel Rosalie Sandoval, Defendant-Appellant.

El Paso County District Court No. 10CR4313 Honorable Thomas K. Kane, Judge

Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Elizabeth Rohrbough, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Anne T. Amicarella, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

FURMAN JUDGE

¶ 1 The central issue on appeal is whether the Federal or State Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a sawed-off (short) shotgun for self-defense. Based, in part, on precedent from the United States Supreme Court, we conclude that such a right is not protected. See District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 625 (2008); United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 178 (1939).

¶ 2 Defendant, Miguel Rosalie Sandoval, appeals his conviction under section 18-12-102, C.R.S. 2015, following a bench trial, for possession of a dangerous weapon after police officers executing a search warrant for Sandoval's home found a short shotgun in a backyard shed. Sandoval contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion to suppress the short shotgun found in his shed because the search of the shed was outside the scope of the search warrant and (2) precluding him from asserting affirmative defenses based on the right to bear arms and self-defense. He also contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Because we disagree with each of Sandoval's contentions, we affirm his judgment of conviction.

I. Testimony About the Short Shotgun

¶ 3 At trial, a police detective testified about his search of Sandoval's property pursuant to a search warrant issued after a shooting on Sandoval's property. The detective searched the interior of Sandoval's residence and recovered "one expended shotgun shell, " "one box of .40 caliber firearm ammunition, " and two full-length shotguns. He also searched a shed in the backyard of Sandoval's residence and found the short shotgun that Sandoval was charged with possessing. He did not find any other short shotguns on the premises.

¶ 4 An expert in firearms analysis then testified. The expert had examined the short shotgun in question and testified that its barrels "were approximately thirteen and three-quarters inches." She also testified that the spent round found in the bedroom had been fired from the right barrel of the short shotgun found in the shed.

¶ 5 Another detective testified that he had interviewed Sandoval informally and then conducted a recorded interview at the police station. In the interviews, Sandoval admitted that he possessed a short shotgun and that he "thought it was on the shelf, maybe in the bedroom." Sandoval also said that he had not purchased the short shotgun or done anything to shorten it. Instead, he said it had been left at his residence.

¶ 6 But, the second detective also testified that, although Sandoval had said he possessed a short shotgun, the detective had not shown Sandoval the particular short shotgun that he was charged with possessing.

¶ 7 Sandoval invoked the affirmative defenses of the right to bear arms and self-defense. He argued that he possessed the short shotgun for self-defense. But, the trial court precluded him from raising this defense at trial.

II. Motion to Suppress

¶ 8 We conclude that the trial court did not err by denying Sandoval's motion to suppress the short shotgun found in his shed because the search warrant authorized the police "to enter and search . . . the person, premises, location and any appurtenances thereto" of Sandoval's residence.

¶ 9 A search warrant must describe with particularity the place to be searched and the things to be seized to prevent unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. See People v. Eirish, 165 P.3d 848, 852 (Colo.App. 2007) (citing Andresen v. Maryland, 427 U.S. 463 (1976)). Evidence obtained from a search that violates the Fourth Amendment is subject to the exclusionary rule. See People v. Winpigler, 8 P.3d 439, 443 (Colo. 1999).

¶ 10 Review of a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress presents a mixed question of fact and law. See People v. Bostic, 148 P.3d 250, 254 (Colo.App. 2006). Accordingly, we defer to the trial court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous but review its legal conclusions de novo. See id.

¶ 11 We may look only to the record from the suppression hearing when considering the facts pertaining to a suppression motion. See Moody v. ...


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