Moss v. State

In Moss v. State, 823 P.2d 671 (Alaska Ct. App. 1991), officers served a search warrant dressed in police-marked raid gear and entered the defendant's residence with their weapons drawn. After the occupants of the home were ordered to sit on a couch, one officer took the defendant into a back bedroom and closed the door. The officer questioned the defendant about his involvement in trafficking in cocaine without advising the defendant of his Miranda rights. The defendant eventually admitted that the officers might find a plate which had some cocaine on it. The defendant also admitted that the numbers on a piece of paper found by other officers represented drug transactions. After about fifteen to twenty minutes, the officer and the defendant returned to the living room. A short while later, officers found cocaine in a toolbox. The defendant was again taken to the back bedroom and the defendant admitted to possession of the cocaine. The officers ultimately left the residence without anyone being arrested. At the defendant's suppression hearing, the officer estimated that the search and questioning of the defendant lasted approximately two and one-half hours. On appeal, the court held that the defendant was entitled to Miranda warnings before being questioned while detained during the execution of the search warrant at his home. Central to the court's holding was the amount of force the officers used to enter and maintain control of the defendant's residence and the extensive questioning of the defendant. The court concluded that, although the officer told the defendant he was not under arrest, the defendant was still deprived of his freedom of action in a significant way.