United States v. Nelson, No. 16-3292 (10th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
After Stephen Nelson was arrested in a private residence, one officer continued searching the residence and found two firearms. The government attributed the firearms to Nelson, and he was indicted for possession of a firearm by a felon. Nelson moved to suppress the firearms, arguing that the officers violated the Fourth Amendment by continuing to search the residence after arresting him. The district court denied Nelson’s motion, concluding that the post-arrest search was a valid protective sweep because the officers “could have reasonably believed that someone other than [Nelson] was hiding in the house.” Nelson entered a conditional guilty plea, and appealed the district court’s order denying his suppression motion. After its review of the trial court record, the Tenth Circuit vacated the denial based on its conclusion that the searching officer had no basis to reasonably believe that an unknown, dangerous person was hiding in the residence. Nevertheless, the Court remanded for the district court to determine, in the first instance, whether the owner of the residence consented to the search.