In re A.R

In In re A.R., 1999 UT 43, 982 P.2d 73, the Court considered the application of the exclusionary rule to a civil child protection proceeding. Id. One winter night, a probation officer and a social worker discovered two of the petitioner's children playing unattended in the street outside of the petitioner's house. After questioning the children about their mother's whereabouts and learning that they had not seen her for at least a day, the probation officer called the Salt Lake City Police Department. Id. When the responding officer arrived at the scene, he tried to locate the mother's boyfriend, who had apparently been entrusted with watching the children. After knocking on the mother's door and not receiving an answer, the officer entered the house "to try and determine if there was anyone there, . . . to have a look around and see what the living conditions were like, and to see if anyone was present to watch the children." Id. The officer then looked in the bedroom and saw, in plain view, two pipes that had been used for smoking drugs. After the officer reported what he had found, a drug canine unit responded and conducted a more comprehensive search of the house, which uncovered various "sexual devices." Although police officers remained at the scene until about 11:00 p.m., no one ever appeared with the intention of attending to the needs of the children. Id. The children were placed in shelter care, and the state filed a petition alleging that they had been neglected. As support for this contention, the state cited the evidence of drug paraphernalia and sexual devices uncovered pursuant to the warrantless searches. Id. The mother argued that the searches were invalid and moved to suppress the evidence under the exclusionary rule. Id. Both the juvenile court and the court of appeals concluded that the exclusionary rule did not apply. The Court agreed and focused our analysis on the exclusionary rule under the United States Constitution. Id.