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Arrington v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

July 2, 2019

RAY GENE ARRINGTON, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

          On Appeal from the Criminal Court at Law No. 11 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 2138927

          Panel consists of Justices Lloyd, Kelly, and Hightower.

          OPINION

          PETER KELLY JUSTICE.

         Ray Gene Arrington appeals from the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress. We affirm.

         Background

         A Harris County deputy sheriff responded to a 911 call about a possible drunk driver. She arrested Arrington without a warrant outside his home. Arrington was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). Tex. Penal Code § 49.04. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that it was obtained from an illegal seizure. After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion and entered findings of fact and conclusions of law. Arrington pleaded guilty and was sentenced to the agreed punishment, one year in the Harris County jail. The court suspended his sentence and placed him on community supervision for eighteen months.

         Motion to Suppress

         In his only issue, Arrington contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress because the deputy did not have probable cause or exigent circumstances for a warrantless arrest. Arrington argues that when the deputy approached him, he was standing behind a fence on his property, and therefore, he was within the curtilage of his home. The State responds that the deputy had probable cause to arrest Arrington for DWI and did not need a warrant because DWI is a breach of the peace and Arrington was in a suspicious place. Alternatively, the State argues that the deputy developed probable cause and exigent circumstances to arrest Arrington for evading arrest once he attempted to flee from her order. We conclude that the trial court did not err by denying Arrington's motion to suppress.

         A. Standard of Review

         We review a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress under a bifurcated standard of review. Turrubiate v. State, 399 S.W.3d 147, 150 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013). We review the trial court's factual findings for an abuse of discretion, and we review the trial court's application of the law to the facts de novo. Id. We give deference to the trial court's factual determinations because the trial court is the sole trier of fact, and the sole judge of witness credibility and the weight to be given testimony. Valtierra v. State, 310 S.W.3d 442, 447 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010). Our deferential review also applies to the trial court's conclusions regarding mixed questions of law and fact that turn on credibility or demeanor. State v. Ortiz, 382 S.W.3d 367, 372 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012). We review mixed questions of law and fact that do not turn on credibility and demeanor, as well as purely legal questions, de novo. State v. Woodard, 341 S.W.3d 404, 410 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011).

         When the trial court makes explicit findings of fact, we determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling, supports the fact findings. State v. Kelly, 204 S.W.3d 808, 818 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006). If the trial court fails to make a particular finding, we imply a fact finding to support the trial court's ruling when the evidence supports the implied finding. See Gutierrez v. State, 221 S.W.3d 680, 687 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007). We afford the prevailing party the "strongest legitimate view of the evidence" and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from that evidence. State v. Duran, 396 S.W.3d 563, 571 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) (quoting State v. Weaver, 349 S.W.3d 521, 525 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011)). We will uphold the trial court's ruling if it is reasonably supported by the record and is correct on any theory of law applicable to the case. State v. Story, 445 S.W.3d 729, 732 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014).

         B. Facts Adduced at Supression Hearing

         Two witnesses testified at the hearing on the motion to suppress: concerned citizen Brandon Conley and Deputy S. Latham of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

         Conley testified that at 2:00 a.m. on February 26, 2017, he called 911 after he saw a sports utility vehicle (SUV) drive by going extremely fast. At the time, Conley was driving out of his neighborhood. He followed the SUV for 12 or 13 miles as it swerved back and forth, including into oncoming traffic. He estimated that the SUV was driving faster than 100 miles per hour because Conley only allowed ...


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