An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA04-733


Filed: 4 January 2005


         v.                        Forsyth County
                                Nos. 03 CRS 53272
                                    03 CRS 53275
ROGELIO AYALA RODRIGUEZ                    03 CRS 53276

    Appeal by defendant from judgments entered 17 February 2004 by Judge Catherine C. Eagles in Forsyth County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 29 November 2004.

    Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Christopher W. Brooks, for the State.

    Nancy R. Gaines, for defendant-appellant.

    ELMORE, Judge.

    Defendant appeals pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-979(b) from an order denying a motion to suppress. Defendant pled guilty to six counts of trafficking in methamphetamine and cocaine, and one count each of possession with intent to sell or deliver methamphetamine, maintaining a vehicle for keeping and selling controlled substances, and possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine. The court sentenced defendant to two consecutive active terms of imprisonment.
    The State's evidence tends to show that on 27 March 2003, a confidential informant working with the Winston Salem Police Department arranged to purchase a quantity of cocaine and methamphetamine from defendant. The informant met defendant laterthat day at a McDonald's Restaurant located near the intersection of Highways 65 and 52. Officers conducting surveillance saw defendant arrive in a vehicle driven by a female companion. The officers saw defendant reach down and retrieve an object from the floorboard of the passenger side of the vehicle. Defendant and his female companion entered the restaurant. Defendant followed the confidential informant into the men's restroom. After ten to fifteen seconds, the informant exited the restroom and restaurant and told the officers waiting outside that defendant had both methamphetamine and powder cocaine in a plastic bag in the restroom. Defendant exited the rest room. The officers stopped and detained defendant. Meanwhile other officers went into the men's restroom and found a plastic bag containing cocaine and methamphetamine inside a tissue dispenser. Before defendant arrived, the officers had searched both the informant and the restroom and had found no contraband. The officers did not see any other persons enter or exit the rest room besides defendant and the informant. The officers searched defendant and seized a large sum of cash, $2,260.00, and a silver Nokia cell phone from defendant's person.
    The court made findings of fact consistent with the foregoing evidence and concluded that the officers had probable cause to arrest defendant and that the officers lawfully searched defendant incident to arrest. The court accordingly denied the motion to suppress.
    “It is well established that the standard of review inevaluating a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress is that the trial court's findings of fact are conclusive on appeal if supported by competent evidence, even if the evidence is conflicting. The trial court's conclusions of law, however, are fully reviewable.” State v. Nixon, 160 N.C. App. 31, 33, 584 S.E.2d 820, 822 (2003). Defendant contends that the court erred by concluding the officers had probable cause to arrest defendant. He argues this conclusion is not supported by any findings regarding the reliability of the confidential informant.
    An officer may make a warrantless arrest of any person the officer has probable cause to believe has committed a felony. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-401(b)(2003). “Probable cause exists where 'the facts and circumstances within their [the officers'] knowledge and of which they had reasonable trustworthy information [are] sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that' an offense has been or is being committed.” State v. Zuniga, 312 N.C. 251, 261, 322 S.E.2d 140, 146 (1984) (quoting Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, 175-76, 93 L. Ed. 1879, 1890 (1949)). The totality of the circumstances, including corroborating evidence, must be considered in determining whether information received from a confidential informant provided probable cause for an officer to make a warrantless arrest. State v. Trapp, 110 N.C. App. 584, 588, 430 S.E.2d 484, 487 (1993).
    Here, the officers searched the informant and the restroom prior to defendant's arrival to assure that the informant did not have any contraband on his person and that the restroom did notcontain any contraband. The officers watched the informant and defendant enter the restroom and the informant exit the restroom shortly thereafter, followed by the defendant a short time later. The informant reported that defendant had a plastic bag containing methamphetamine and cocaine inside the restroom. The officers looked in the rest room and found a plastic bag containing these substances. The officers did not see anyone else enter or exit the restroom. Based upon these circumstances, a cautious officer could form a reasonable and prudent belief that defendant deposited the contraband in the rest room and engaged in criminal activity by possessing the same. We hold the court properly concluded that the officers had probable cause to arrest defendant.
    The order denying the motion to suppress is
    Judges HUNTER and STEELMAN concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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