THE COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA
PRESENT: Lemons, C.J., Goodwyn, McClanahan, Powell, Kelsey,
and McCullough, JJ., and Millette, S.J.
ARTHUR KELSEY, JUSTICE
denying a motion to suppress, the trial court convicted
Lashant Leonardo White of possession of heroin with the
intent to distribute, third or subsequent offense, in
violation of Code § 18.2-248. The Court of Appeals reversed the
conviction, holding that the trial court had erred in denying
White's motion to suppress and further held that the
error was not harmless. We reverse the judgment of the Court
of Appeals and reinstate the conviction.
appeal, we state the facts "in the light most favorable
to the Commonwealth, giving it the benefit of any reasonable
inferences." Evans v. Commonwealth, 290 Va.
277, 280, 776 S.E.2d 760, 761 (2015) (citation omitted).
"This standard requires us 'to give due weight to
inferences drawn from those facts by resident judges and
local law enforcement officers.'" Id.
(quoting Jones v. Commonwealth, 279 Va. 521, 528,
690 S.E.2d 95, 99 (2010)).
considering whether to affirm the denial of a pretrial
suppression motion, an appellate court reviews not only the
evidence presented at the pretrial hearing but also the
evidence later presented at trial. See Carroll v. United
States, 267 U.S. 132, 162 (1925) ("If the evidence
given on the trial was sufficient, as we think it was, to
sustain the introduction of the [contested evidence], it is
immaterial that there was an inadequacy of evidence when
application was made for its return. A conviction on adequate
and admissible evidence should not be set aside on such a
ground."); Ricks v. Commonwealth, 39 Va.App.
330, 336 n.3, 573 S.E.2d 266, 269 n.3 (2002) (applying the
principle described in Carroll); DePriest v.
Commonwealth, 4 Va.App. 577, 583, 359 S.E.2d 540, 542-43
(1987) (same); see also United States v. Han, 74
F.3d 537, 539 (4th Cir. 1996) (noting that "federal
courts have held uniformly that an appellate tribunal may
consider evidence adduced at trial that supports the district
judge's ruling" made at a pretrial suppression
evening in October 2013, three Norfolk police investigators
responded to a citizen's complaint that narcotics
activity was occurring at a local motel. That motel had been
the situs of "numerous" similar complaints, J.A. at
58, and the location of "several" prior drug and
prostitution arrests, id. at 61. One of the
investigators testified that prior suspects revealed the
motel as being "their area of choice as far as meeting
and making these [drug] transactions." Id. at
58. It was a "known drug motel, " id. at
70, and a virtual "breeding ground for drugs and
prostitution, " id. at 120-21.
arriving at the motel, the investigators saw White standing
in the parking lot. A vehicle came into the lot, circled
around, and its driver eventually stopped to talk to White.
He walked up to the driver's side window and began
"leaning" into the vehicle with both arms inside.
Id. at 122, 136. He later emerged out of the window
with a handful of cash in one hand and a cell phone in the
other. Based upon their experience and training, the
investigators believed that White had engaged in a drug
transaction. Though they did not see the transfer of any
specific narcotics as White leaned into the vehicle, all of
the other circumstances suggested that such a transfer had
likely occurred. Id. at 74.
investigators approached White, mentioned their suspicions,
and asked for permission to search him. After White had
consented, the officers searched him and found on his person:
■ three baggies of heroin, consisting of 4.306 grams of
"raw heroin" that had not been "cut" or
diluted for retail sale, packaged in three different weights:
approximately 1/8 ounce (or "3.53 grams"), 1 gram,
and 1/2 gram, id. at 130-32;
■ $644 in currency consisting of 31 twenty-dollar
bills, 1 ten-dollar bill, 2 five-dollar bills, and 4
one-dollar bills, which were organized by "denominations
in different pockets, " id. at 129-30;
■ two cell phones, id. at 129; and
■ one baggie with .839 grams of marijuana,
Commonwealth's Ex. 6.
investigators found no drug paraphernalia on White that would
have allowed him to use either the heroin or the marijuana.
his arrest, White asked the investigators to "find his
girlfriend Tanya at Room 219" of the motel. J. A. at 87.
He did not claim that he had rented the room or suggest that
any of his personal property would be found there. Nor did he
voice any objection to the police searching the room when he
made his request. Pursuant to White's request, one of the
investigators went to the motel room and knocked on the door.
A woman named "Tanya" opened the door and let the
investigator in after he had explained that White had been
"seemed to have control of the room, " which led
the investigator to believe that she was "the lessee of
the room." Id. at 88. The investigator asked
for permission to search the room, and she agreed. During the
search, the investigator found a gray plastic bag on the bed.
Tanya volunteered that the bag "belonged" to White.
Id. at 87. She said nothing, however, to disclaim
either her apparent joint possession of the bag or her access
to it. Nor did she at any time "object to [the
investigator] looking in the bag." Id. at 93.
Hearing no such ...