MILLER, P. J., RICKMAN and REESE, JJ.
found Phillip Ray Lindsey, Jr. (the "Appellant"),
guilty of possession of methamphetamine with intent to
distribute, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana,
two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission
of a felony, and three counts of possession of drug related
objects. The Appellant appeals from the trial
court's denial of his motion for new trial, arguing that
the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress
evidence and motion to exclude statements that he made to law
enforcement officers, and that the court erred in instructing
the jury. For the reasons set forth infra, we affirm.
in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling
on the motions to suppress evidence,  the evidence showed the
following facts. At about 10:00 a.m. on November 8, 2016,
Lieutenant Jason Sullivan and Detective Alan Miles of the
Catoosa County Sheriff's Office's narcotics division
received a request for assistance with an arrest from
Detective Scott Murray of the Dalton Police Department. Det.
Murray told the officers that his department had an
outstanding arrest warrant for the Appellant based on a
felony probation violation,  and Det. Murray had learned from
a reliable confidential source that the Appellant currently
had drugs in his possession and was staying with a woman
named "Raeanna Higginbotham" in Room 201 of a
certain motel in Ringgold.
Sullivan and Det. Miles met with Det. Murray, then went to
the motel's front office, where a motel clerk confirmed
that Higginbotham had rented Room 201. According to the
clerk, the Appellant was in Room 201 with Higginbotham, and,
because Higginbotham had not renewed the room rental for
another night, they both had to be out of the room by 11:00
a.m. that day. The clerk told Lt. Sullivan that the
motel's normal protocol was "to give the room
occupants [until] the allotted time, which is eleven a.m., to
either come check out or call and re-[rent] the room for
another night." Then, if the occupants had not contacted
the motel's clerk or rented the room for another night by
11:00 a.m., the staff would go up to the room and check to
see if the occupants were still in the room.
11:00 a.m., neither Higginbotham nor the Appellant had
contacted the clerk or rented the room for another night.
Thus, a motel employee, accompanied by Det. Murray, Lt.
Sullivan, Det. Miles, Probation Officer Justin Harris, and
other law enforcement officers, went to Room 201. The motel
employee knocked on the door several times, but did not
receive a response. As a result, the motel employee announced
who he was and started to open the door with the motel's
master key. However, a woman (who was later identified as
Higginbotham) partially opened the door from the inside, with
the top latch still engaged. Through the door, the officers
could see inside the room and saw a man jump off the left
side of the bed and appear as though he was going to
"take off[ ]" or try to hide. When Higginbotham saw
the law enforcement officers, she tried to shut the door to
keep them out, but one of the officers shoved the door open.
Probation Officer Harris recognized the Appellant as the
person for whom the department had an outstanding probation
violation arrest warrant and advised the Appellant about the
warrant. An officer searched the Appellant but did not find
any weapons or contraband on his person.
to Lt. Sullivan, while Room 201's door was open, he saw,
in plain view, a "clear crystal[-]like substance"
and drug related items on a table on the left side of the
bed. Lt. Sullivan testified that, based on his four to five
years of experience in the narcotics division of the
sheriff's office, the crystal-like substance had the
"consistency and appearance of methamphetamine[.]"
Lt. Sullivan also testified that the drug related items that
he observed on the table included a glass smoking device that
contained a residue that was consistent with methamphetamine.
In addition, in plain view on a table on the other side of
the bed, Lt. Sullivan observed a small glass jar containing a
"green leafy substance" and two small bags of a
"brown, crystal type substance[, ]" which Lt.
Sullivan believed to be marijuana and methamphetamine. Based
on his observation of this contraband in plain view, Lt.
Sullivan secured Room 201 until a search warrant could be
obtained. Because the room was small, with only the bed and
one chair on which the Appellant, Higginbotham, and the
officers could sit while waiting for the search warrant, the
officers checked the bed for safety and found a .22 caliber
handgun between the mattress and box spring.
Det. Miles obtained a search warrant and the officers
conducted the search, they placed the Appellant and
Higginbotham under arrest. Lt. Sullivan testified that he
advised the Appellant of his Miranda rights, and the
Appellant voluntarily agreed to speak with him and give a
statement. Lt. Sullivan denied that he had made any
threats or promises or otherwise coerced the Appellant in
order to get the Appellant to waive his rights.
to Lt. Sullivan, the Appellant admitted that "he was
involved with methamphetamine and he had been dealing with
methamphetamine and that he was also expecting [a man named
Jason Meeks] to make a delivery that day" of an
"eight ball of methamphetamine." While officers
were present, the Appellant spoke to Meeks on the phone, and
Meeks said that he was on his way to the motel. Shortly
thereafter, Meeks did, in fact, arrive at the motel in a
truck that matched the description he had given to the
Appellant, which he parked in a space near Room 201. The
officers detained Meeks after he knocked on the door of Room
Appellant's appointed counsel filed a motion to suppress
the evidence seized from Room 201 and a motion in limine to
suppress the statements the Appellant had made to Lt.
Sullivan. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the
motion to suppress. And, immediately before trial, the court
conducted a Jackson-Denno hearing on the admissibility
of the Appellant's custodial statements before denying
the motion in limine based on a finding that the Appellant
had voluntarily made the statements.
trial, the jury found the Appellant guilty of numerous drug
offenses, as shown above. After conducting a hearing, the
trial court denied the Appellant's motion for new trial.
This appeal followed.
When reviewing a trial court's decision on a motion to
suppress, our responsibility is to ensure that there was a
substantial basis for the decision. The evidence is construed
most favorably to uphold the trial court's findings and
judgment and the trial court's findings on disputed facts
and credibility of the witnesses are adopted unless they are
clearly erroneous. Nevertheless, when the evidence is
uncontroverted and no question regarding the credibility of
witnesses is presented, the trial court's application of
the law to undisputed facts is subject to de novo appellate
these guiding principles in mind, we turn now to the
Appellant's specific claims of error.
Appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying his
motion to suppress evidence that law enforcement officers
seized, allegedly in violation of his Fourth Amendment
protections against illegal searches and seizures. The
Appellant argues that he had stayed in Room 201 overnight
and, thus, had a reasonable expectation of privacy that was
violated when the officers illegally entered the room without
a warrant, probable cause, or consent. We disagree.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and
Article I, Section I, Paragraph XIII of the Georgia
Constitution guarantee the right of the people to be secure
in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures. The touchstone of Fourth
Amendment analysis is whether a person has a constitutionally
protected reasonable expectation of privacy. The Amendment
does not protect the merely subjective expectation of
privacy, but only those expectations that society is prepared
to recognize as reasonable.
(a) "[A] hotel guest has a reasonable expectation of
privacy in his room if certain factors are present,
" such as if the guest properly checked
into and paid for the room. In contrast, "mere
unlawful possession of a [motel] room does not warrant a
reasonable expectation of freedom from governmental
intrusion[.]" Thus, the question presented is whether,
at the time the motel employee allowed the officers to enter
Room 201, the Appellant was a "guest" of the motel
that entitled him to a reasonable expectation of privacy and
gave him standing to contest the officers' entry and the
seizure of evidence that followed.
§ 43-21-1 (1) defines the term "guest" as
"a person who pays a fee to the keeper of an inn for the
purpose of entertainment at that inn." Under OCGA §
[a] written statement prominently setting forth in bold type
the time period during which a guest may occupy an assigned
room, when separately signed or initialed by the guest, is a
valid nonassignable contract. At the expiration of such time
period, the guest may be restrained from entering such room
and any property of the guest may be removed by the innkeeper
to a secure place where the guest may recover his or her
property without liability to the innkeeper, except for
damages to or loss of such property attributable to its
case, the motel's registration form that shows
Higginbotham's payment for Room 201 stated, in bold text
near her signature, "Check-in time: 3:00
PM" and "Check-out time: 11:00
AM[.]" Thus, pretermitting whether the
Appellant was ever a "guest" of the motel under
OCGA § 43-21-1 (1), under the plain terms of the
registration contract, neither the Appellant nor Higginbotham
was a "guest" after 11:00 a.m. on November 8, 2016,
due to their failure to pay for another night's
point, control over Room 201 reverted back to the motel,
and the motel was within its rights to evict the Appellant
and Higginbotham from Room 201 without notice. It follows,
therefore, that the Appellant had no legal possession or
control of Room 201 after 11:00 a.m. on November 8, 2016, so
any expectation of privacy he may have claimed prior to that
time had terminated and he had no standing to contest the
officers' entry into and search of the
the evidence in the light most favorable to upholding the
trial court's judgment,  we hold that the officers
entered Room 201 after 11:00 a.m. on November 8, 2016, when
the Appellant was not a "guest" of the motel and,
thus, had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the
room. Consequently, the officers legally
entered the room and did not violate the Appellant's
Fourth Amendment rights.
because the officers observed contraband in plain view once
they were inside the room, they were authorized to seize that
contraband, and it was admissible at trial.
the trial court did not err in denying the Appellant's
motion to suppress the evidence seized from Room 201 of the
Given this ruling, the Appellant's remaining arguments
challenging the legality of the officers' entry into Room
201 are moot. Further, to the extent the Appellant contends
that the motel employee was not authorized to allow anyone,
including police officers, into Room 201 for any reason, he
failed to raise that argument in the trial court. Thus, it
Appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying his
motion to exclude statements that he made to Lt. Sullivan,
arguing that the statements were the fruit of an illegal
entry into Room 201 that violated his Fourth Amendment
rights. Specifically, he argues that the officers'
"[i]llegal entry into the room led to the detention of
[the Appellant], which, in turn led to his confession.
Without entering the room illegally to find [the Appellant],
law enforcement [officers] could not have detained [the
Appellant] and subjected him to the questioning." Given
our ruling in Division 1, supra, however, the Appellant
cannot prevail on this alleged error.
Appellant also argues that the trial court should have
suppressed the incriminating statements he made to Lt.
Sullivan while in custody in Room 201, arguing that he gave
the statements "under the duress of illegal police
activity" and that they were obtained in violation of
his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
statements are admissible against the accused at trial only
if they are voluntary, and the State has the burden of
proving voluntariness by a preponderance of the
In deciding the admissibility of a statement during a
Jackson-Denno hearing, the trial court must consider
the totality of the circumstances. . . . After the trial
court determines that the State has met its burden of
demonstrating that a defendant's statement was freely and
voluntarily given in compliance with Jackson v.
Denno, it may permit the statement to come into
evidence. On appeal, this Court will not disturb the trial
court's factual findings and credibility determinations
unless they are clearly erroneous.
the Jackson-Denno hearing in this case, Lt. Sullivan
testified that, after he advised the Appellant of ...