State v. Downey, ___ N.C. App. ___, 791 S.E.2d 257 (Sept. 6, 2016)

In this drug case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence collected from his residence on the grounds that the inventory list prepared by the detective was unlawfully vague and inaccurate in describing the items seized. The defendant argued that the evidence gathered from his residence was obtained in substantial violation of G.S. 15A-254, which requires an officer executing a search warrant to write and sign a receipt itemizing the items taken. Specifically, he asserted that the inventory receipt was vague and inaccurate and thus failed to satisfy the statute’s requirements. In order for suppression to be warranted for a substantial violation of the statute, G.S. 15A-974 requires that the evidence be obtained as a result of officer’s unlawful conduct and that it would not have been obtained but for the unlawful conduct. Here, citing prior case law, the court held, in part, that because the evidence was seized before the inventory required by the statute had to be prepared, the defendant failed to show that the evidence would not have been obtained but for the alleged violations of G.S. 15A-254. The court held that G.S. 15A-254 “applies only after evidence has been obtained and does not implicate the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. In turn, because evidence cannot be obtained ‘as a result of’ a violation of [G.S.] 15A-254, [G.S.] 15A-974(a)(2) is inapplicable to either alleged or actual [G.S.] 15A-254 violations.”