WILLIAMS (CHARLES S.) VS. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKYAnnotate this Case
RENDERED: OCTOBER 3, 2008; 10:00 A.M.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
Commonwealth of Kentucky
Court of Appeals
CHARLES S. WILLIAMS, JR.
APPEAL FROM BRECKINRIDGE CIRCUIT COURT
HONORABLE BRUCE T. BUTLER, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 07-CR-00007
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
** ** ** ** **
BEFORE: MOORE AND THOMPSON, JUDGES; HENRY,1 SENIOR JUDGE.
MOORE, JUDGE: Charles Stanley Williams, Jr., appeals from a Judgment and
Sentence on Plea of Guilty of the Breckinridge Circuit Court, after having reserved
his right to appeal the court’s overruling of his motion to suppress. Upon review,
Senior Judge Michael Henry, sitting as Special Judge by assignment of the Chief Justice
pursuant to Section 110(5)(b) of the Kentucky Constitution and KRS 21.580.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In an underlying matter, Williams entered a guilty plea to charges of
trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana, and possession of a controlled
substance in the first degree. He was sentenced to one year in prison. At his
sentencing hearing, Williams requested probation. The Commonwealth agreed
not to oppose probation if Williams passed an “on-the-stop” drug test, which he
After Williams passed his drug test, there was no opposition from the
Commonwealth to probation. The trial court explained to Williams that to receive
probation, he had to agree to and sign a “Waiver of Constitutional Rights and
Consent to Search,” containing the following:
“I, the undersigned, have been informed by my attorney,
Aaron Whaley, of my Fourth Amendment Right not to
have a search of, or seizure of property owned by me, or
in my care, custody, or control without a valid search
“I, hereby, willingly give my permission to any properly
identified law enforcement officers to conduct a complete
search of me, my residence and any premises. . . .
Additionally, I willingly consent for these officers to
seize anything they desire as evidence for criminal
“My attorney has also informed me of my Fifth
Amendment Right to not be compelled to testify against
myself in a criminal case and that I have a right to remain
silent if I feel my answer would incriminate me.”
“I, hereby, willingly agree to testify and answer All
questions asked of me by my Probation Officer or law
enforcement officers concerning any illegal activity
committed by me during the period of my probation. I
realize that I might be called in front of a grand jury and
questioned. I, hereby, willingly agree to appear and
answer All questions.”
The court went into detail explaining to Williams what this waiver
meant regarding searches of his home, person, vehicles, etc., without a warrant or
probable cause. Williams answered that he understood this; his counsel was
present and did not make any objection to the waiver. Thereafter, the court
sentenced Williams to five years’ probation.
Williams now maintains that “the trial judge threatened [him] with
prison time should he refuse to sign” the waiver and cites to a page in the record
for this assertion. The page cited, however, is to the Commonwealth’s
Memorandum Regarding Defendant’s Motion to Suppress and does not support
On our own review of the sentencing hearing, we find Williams’s
assertion that the trial court threatened him with prison time if he refused to sign
the waiver is not supported. Obviously, if Williams did not agree with the
conditions of the waiver, withdrew his request for probation, and accepted his oneyear sentence, he would have then served jail time. Nonetheless, to describe what
transpired as Williams’s signing of the waiver under threat of jail is a
mischaracterization of the record. Williams signed the waiver as a condition of his
probation, which indicated that he understood what he was doing, and he was
assisted by counsel when he did so. His counsel made no objections to any aspect
of the waiver, including its constitutionality.
While Williams was serving probation, Breckinridge Deputy Tommy
Styles introduced Breckinridge Detective Ron Eckart to an informant, who was
arrested the prior day and offered information about drug activities in the area.
This informant had given reliable information regarding illegal drugs, which
proved to be truthful in the past, to the sheriff’s department.
The informant revealed that he had been at Williams’s trailer home
the day before he spoke to Detective Eckart and that he had observed
methamphetamine while there. The informant specifically noted that the
methamphetamine was a “funny color.” He also stated that Williams had a large
bag of marijuana. According to the informant, Williams took the bag of marijuana
to an outbuilding located behind Williams’s trailer home.
Detective Eckart learned from checking Courtnet that Williams had
signed the above noted waiver. He then contacted the Commonwealth’s Attorney
to obtain a copy of the consent form. Thereafter, Detective Eckart, accompanied
by Sergeant Corey Knochel and Sheriff Todd Pate, went to Williams’s home.
Detective Eckart and Sergeant Corey wore their badges and Sheriff Pate wore his
The officers knocked on Williams’s door and announced their
presence. They heard the television playing, yet no one answered the door. The
officers walked around his residence and the surrounding yard.
Believing that Williams’s father lived across the street and hearing
music coming from there, the officers went there to find Williams. No one
answered the door when they knocked.
Having failed to located anyone, Sergeant Knochel contacted the
Commonwealth’s Attorney to determine if the waiver allowed the officers to enter
Williams’s home in his absence. Upon learning that this was permissible due to
Williams’s waiver of his rights, the officer removed the lock from Williams’s door
to enter his trailer home.
Once inside Williams’s home, the officers found two baggies of
methamphetamine. Consistent with what the informant told Detective Eckart, the
methamphetamine was not a normal tan color; rather, it was white. The officers
also found a set of scales and an 870 shotgun. Additionally, they recovered a
partially burned marijuana cigarette from Williams’s kitchen garbage can.
Relying on the information given to them by the informant, the
officers then went to the outbuilding behind Williams’s trailer home. They did not
find a large bag of marijuana as referenced by the informant but did find some
marijuana plant material.
Williams was subsequently indicted for a variety of offenses resulting
from the search of his property.2 Thereafter, the Commonwealth moved to revoke
Williams’s probation, which the trial court granted.
These charges include first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (methamphetamine)
enhanced by possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana enhanced by possession of a
firearm, possession of drug paraphernalia enhanced by possession of a firearm, possession of a
firearm by a convicted felon, and being a second-degree persistent felony offender.
Williams then moved to suppress the evidence collected during the
search of his property, arguing that: (1) a waiver of federal constitutional rights
does not constitute a waiver of state constitutional rights; (2) the waiver only
allowed a search if Williams was present to give permission to any properly
identified law enforcement officers; (3) the search of Williams’s home was
unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment; and (4) the inclusion of a statement
requiring Williams to waive his Fifth Amendment rights rendered the waiver
The trial court denied Williams’s motion, ruling that “[a] waiver of
Fourth Amendment rights pursuant to the United States Constitution is in essence a
waiver of rights provided by Section 10 of the Kentucky Constitution which is the
Kentucky version of the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Regarding Williams’s argument that the waiver included that he had
to physically be present to give permission for a search, the trial court found no
merit in this argument. The trial court held that “[t]he common sense reading of
[the] provision does not mean that a police officer has to identify himself before he
can search property clearly owned by a defendant who is on probation and is not
present to give consent.”
The trial court found no merit in Williams’s Fourth Amendment
argument. The court determined there was reasonable suspicion and that as a
condition of being granted the probation Williams’s requested, the search was
reasonable in light of the waiver.
As to the officers’ breaking into Williams’s residence, the trial court
found that given the situation this was reasonable. The officers attempted to locate
Williams; they had heard a television playing when they knocked on the door; and
they had reasonable suspicion that Williams was in violation of his probation by
being in possession of illegal substances.
On appeal, Williams contends that: (1) the trial court erred in denying
his motion to suppress because he waived his federal constitutional rights, not his
state constitutional rights; (2) the trial court erred in interpreting the waiver form in
favor of the Commonwealth when the waiver’s plain language concerned only a
waiver of federal constitutional rights; (3) the trial court erred when it held that the
search of Williams’s residence was reasonable pursuant to the Fourth Amendment;
and (4) the inclusion of a provision in the waiver requiring Williams to waive his
Fifth Amendment rights invalidates the entire agreement.
A. CLAIM THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING MOTION
Williams first alleges that the trial court erred in denying his motion to
suppress because he waived his federal constitutional rights, not his state
constitutional rights. However, the Kentucky Supreme Court has held that
“Section 10 of the Kentucky Constitution provides no greater protection than does
the federal Fourth Amendment.” LaFollette v. Commonwealth, 915 S.W.2d 747,
748 (Ky. 1996). That Court has also held “that the protection against self-
incrimination given by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is
identical with that afforded by Section Eleven of the Kentucky Constitution.”
Commonwealth v. Cooper, 899 S.W.2d 75, 77 (Ky. 1995). Thus, the applicable
provisions in the Kentucky Constitution are construed the same as the Fourth and
Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Therefore, because the
pertinent provisions of the Kentucky Constitution are construed the same as their
federal counterparts, and because Williams consented to searches and waived his
rights against self-incrimination, the circuit court did not err in denying Williams’s
motion to suppress.
B. CLAIM THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN INTERPRETING THE
WAIVER FORM IN THE COMMONWEALTH’S FAVOR
Williams next asserts that the trial court erred in interpreting the
waiver form in favor of the Commonwealth when the waiver’s plain language
concerned only a waiver of federal constitutional rights. However, this claim lacks
merit because, as previously explained, the applicable provisions of the Kentucky
Constitution are construed the same as the United States Constitution.
Furthermore, the waiver did not state that Williams was only waiving his Fourth
and Fifth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. Rather, the
waiver explicitly stated that Williams consented to searches of himself, his vehicle,
and any premises under his care, custody, or control, and that he waived his right
against self-incrimination. Therefore, the circuit court did not err concerning this
C. CLAIM THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT HELD THAT
THE SEARCH OF WILLIAMS’S RESIDENCE WAS REASONABLE
Williams next contends that the trial court erred when it held that the
search of Williams’s residence was reasonable pursuant to the Fourth Amendment.
The touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is
reasonableness, and the reasonableness of a search is
determined by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to
which it intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and, on the
other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion
of legitimate governmental interests.
United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112, 118-19, 122 S. Ct. 587, 591, 151 L. Ed. 2d
497 (2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). In Knights, to receive probation for
a prior conviction, the defendant had signed a waiver stating that he would submit
himself, his “property, place of residence, vehicle, [and] personal effects, to search
at anytime, with or without a search warrant, warrant of arrest or reasonable cause.
. . .” Id. at 114, 122 S. Ct. at 589. In the present case, Williams signed a waiver
that did not just promise to submit to a search, but straightforwardly provided
consent for law enforcement to conduct a search of himself, his residence, etc.
The United States Supreme Court has held that: “When an officer has
reasonable suspicion that a probationer subject to a search condition is engaged in
criminal activity, there is enough likelihood that criminal conduct is occurring that
an intrusion on the probationer’s significantly diminished privacy interests is
reasonable.” Knights, 534 U.S. at 121, 122 S. Ct. at 593.
Consent to search provided in a probation condition agreement, such
as the one Williams signed in this case, “will support a warrantless search if the
officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person who gave the consent is presently
engaged in criminal activity.” Parks v. Commonwealth, 192 S.W.3d 318, 330 (Ky.
2006) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“The Court held in Knights that a warrantless search of a
probationer’s residence is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when the
search is supported by a reasonable suspicion that the probationer is engaged in
criminal activity and such a search is authorized by a condition of probation.”
Riley v. Commonwealth, 120 S.W.3d 622, 627 (Ky. 2003). “In support of this
conclusion, the Court explained, ‘[w]hen an officer has reasonable suspicion that a
probationer subject to a search condition is engaged in criminal activity, there is
enough likelihood that criminal conduct is occurring that an intrusion on the
probationer’s significantly diminished privacy interests is reasonable.’” Id.
(quoting Knights, 534 U.S. at 121, 122 S. Ct. at 593).
In the present case, Williams’s home was searched because a
confidential informant had provided a tip that drugs would be found at Williams’s
residence and because Williams had signed a form providing his consent to search
as a condition of his probation. In the past, the confidential informant had given
the sheriff’s department reliable information regarding illegal drugs, which proved
to be truthful.
Regarding Williams, the informant revealed that he had been at
Williams’s trailer home the day before speaking to Detective Eckart and that he
had observed methamphetamine while there. The informant specifically noted that
the methamphetamine was a “funny color.” He also stated that Williams had a
large bag of marijuana. According to the informant, Williams took the bag of
marijuana to an outbuilding located behind Williams’s trailer home.
Based on the informant’s tip, the officers had reasonable suspicion
that Williams, who was subject to the search condition, was engaged in criminal
activity. Therefore, the search of Williams’s residence was reasonable, and the
circuit court did not err in this regard.
D. CLAIM THAT THE INCLUSION OF A PROVISION IN THE WAIVER
REQUIRING WILLIAMS TO WAIVE HIS FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS
INVALIDATES THE ENTIRE AGREEMENT
Finally, Williams alleges that the inclusion of a provision in the
waiver requiring him to waive his Fifth Amendment rights invalidates the entire
agreement. However, Williams does not allege that he has ever been forced to
incriminate himself pursuant to that provision. Thus, this claim is “remote and
speculative” and Williams does not have standing to bring this claim at this time.
City of Louisville v. Stock Yards Bank & Trust Co., 843 S.W.2d 327, 329 (Ky.
1992) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Accordingly, the judgment of the Breckinridge Circuit Court is
HENRY, SENIOR JUDGE, CONCURS.
THOMPSON, JUDGE, CONCURS IN RESULT ONLY.
BRIEF AND ORAL ARGUMENT
BRIEF AND ORAL ARGUMENT
Patrick J. Renn
Attorney General of Kentucky
Bryan D. Morrow
Assistant Attorney General