State v. Barnes, ___ N.C. App. ___, 789 S.E.2d. 488 (Jul. 19, 2016)

Although the defendant was in handcuffs at the time of the questioning, he was not, based on the totality of the circumstances, “in custody” for purposes of Miranda. While the defendant was visiting his cousin’s house, a parole officer arrived to search of the cousin’s home. The parole officer recognized the defendant as a probationer and the officer advised him that he was also subject to a warrantless search because of his probation status. The officer put the defendant in handcuffs “for officer safety” and seated the two men on the front porch while officers conducted a search. During the search, the parole officer found a jacket with what appeared to be crack cocaine inside a pocket. The officer asked the defendant and his cousin to identify the owner of the jacket. The defendant claimed the jacket and was charged with a drug offense. The court held: “Based on the totality of circumstances, we conclude that a reasonable person in Defendant’s situation, though in handcuffs would not believe his restraint rose to the level of the restraint associated with a formal arrest.” The court noted that the regular conditions of probation include the requirement that a probation submit to warrantless searches. Also, the defendant was informed that he would be placed in handcuffs for officer safety and he was never told that his detention was anything other than temporary. Further, the court reasoned, “as a probationer subject to random searches as a condition of probation, Defendant would objectively understand the purpose of the restraints and the fact that the period of restraint was for a temporary duration.”