reviewing the granting or denial of a motion to suppress
evidence, an appellate court determines whether the factual
findings underlying the trial court's suppression
decision are supported by substantial competent evidence. The
appellate court does not reweigh the evidence or reassess the
credibility of the witnesses. The ultimate legal conclusion
drawn from those factual findings is reviewed under a de novo
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,
applicable to the States via the Fourteenth Amendment,
establishes the right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable
searches. Section 15 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of
Rights provides identical protection. If conduct is
prohibited by one, it is prohibited by the other.
warrantless search is per se unreasonable, and the fruits of
that search inadmissible, unless the search falls within one
of the established exceptions to the search warrant
requirement. Those exceptions are consent; search incident to
a lawful arrest; stop and frisk; probable cause plus exigent
circumstances; the emergency doctrine; inventory searches;
plain view or feel; and administrative searches of closely
probable cause and an exigent circumstance are present, an
officer may perform a warrantless search of a car without
violating the Fourth Amendment.
Exigent circumstances exist where the police officer
reasonably believes there is a threat of imminent loss,
destruction, removal, or concealment of evidence or
Fourth Amendment purposes, the mobility of a vehicle fulfills
the requirement of exigent circumstances, so that a
warrantless vehicle search is permitted based solely on
Probable cause to search a vehicle exists when the totality
of the circumstances indicates there is a fair probability
that the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime.
analyzing the totality of the circumstances, an appellate
court will consider all of the information in the
officer's possession, fair inferences therefrom, and any
other relevant facts, even if they may not be admissible on
the issue of guilt.
of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in 51 Kan.App.2d 28,
339 P.3d 809 (2014).
from Johnson District Court; James Franklin Davis, judge.
M. Divine, of Divine Law Office, LLC, of Kansas City,
Missouri, and Clayton E. Gillette, of Gillette Law Office,
LLC, of Kansas City, Missouri, argued the cause and were on
the briefs for appellant.
M. Gontesky, assistant district attorney, argued the cause,
and Steven J. Obermeier, assistant district attorney, Stephen
M. Howe, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney
general, were with him on the briefs for appellee.
Howard was convicted of criminal possession of a firearm by a
convicted felon. The Court of Appeals affirmed his
conviction, and we granted review.
relevant facts are uncontested. On October 19, 2006, Cameron
Howard pled guilty to one count of "Burglary First
Degree, Class B Felony" in the circuit court of Jackson
County, Missouri. Howard was then adjudged guilty by the
Missouri court. Following the plea and adjudication, the
court ordered that the "imposition of sentence be
suspended and [the] defendant is placed on probation for a
period of three (3) years . . . ." In Yale v. City
of Independence., 846 S.W.2d 193, 196 (Mo. 1993), the
Missouri Supreme Court held that a "suspended imposition
of sentence" does not constitute a conviction under
October 17, 2008, the Missouri court determined that Howard
had successfully completed his probation and discharged him
from the court's jurisdiction. It further ordered that
the file be "a closed record to the extent provided by
law, " as prescribed by Mo. Rev. Stat. § 610.105.1.
3 years later, on September 15, 2011, Police Officer Chad
Loughman was near 7720 State Line Road in Prairie Village,
Johnson County, Kansas, looking for drivers who would pull
into a gas station parking lot to avoid a traffic light-a
traffic violation in Prairie Village. Loughman observed
Howard pull into the parking lot and then out of it,
effectively avoiding the traffic light. Loughman also noticed
that Howard and his passenger had the shoulder straps of
their seatbelts behind them, leading him to believe that they
were not properly wearing the belts.
pulled Howard over and asked for his identification. At this
time, Loughman saw that the passenger had reclined her seat
since he had first seen the vehicle. Loughman called in
Howard's identification to dispatch, which informed him
that there was a warrant for Howard's arrest from Leawood
Municipal Court. After learning of the warrant, Loughman
called for backup, and Sergeant James Carney came to the
Carney arrived, Loughman had Howard step out of the car and
stand at the rear passenger's door with Carney. Loughman
then scanned the car, looking underneath Howard's seat
for a weapon. Loughman found no weapons but discovered a
plastic baggie with a ripped out corner in the center
console. Loughman then secured Howard in the back of
Carney's police car and told Howard he was being put
under arrest pursuant to the Leawood warrant.
then took the passenger's identification and learned from
dispatch that there was a warrant for her arrest from Prairie
Village Municipal Court. Loughman had the passenger step out
of the car and, because she was pregnant, had her sit on the
curb about 6 to 8 feet away from the car.
removing the passenger, Loughman moved the passenger seat
forward and found a firearm, subsequently classified in the
record as an AK-47 pistol, that was concealed under a floor
mat. It is unclear exactly where the weapon was located in
the car because the officer testified that the firearm was
concealed by "[t]he driver's side rear
floormat" and the "front passenger seat, that
finding the firearm, Loughman Mirandized Howard.
Loughman then asked Howard about the plastic baggie. Howard
responded that the baggie had previously held marijuana.
was subsequently charged with criminal possession of a
firearm by a convicted felon under K.S.A. 2011 Supp.
21-6304(a)(2) for possession of a firearm within 5 years
after having been convicted of a felony under the laws of
another state. The charge was based on the AK-47 found in
Howard's car on the day of the traffic stop and on the
prior Missouri burglary charge.
Howard's trial, both he and the State filed a number of
motions. Howard filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the
Missouri judgment was not a conviction and thus he could not
be convicted under K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-6304. Howard also
filed a motion to suppress any evidence related to his
possession of the firearm because the evidence was obtained
through a warrantless search of his car. Finally, the State
filed a motion in limine requesting that the court preclude
Howard from "introducing evidence that ...