According to a recent article by policestateusa.com, police officers in Durham, North Carolina routinely lie to gain access to homes in search of wanted suspects. The “tactic is apparently legal–and commonplace – according to an officer’s sworn statements”, writes a policestateusa.com staff journalist.
An officer from the Durham Police Department admitted recently, under oath, that he told a resident at a private home in Durham that he was investigating a 911 hang up call in order to gain access to the private home. In reality, the officer was there to serve an arrest warrant on an occupant of the home.
How would this type of conduct by law enforcement hold up in Florida? Would this type of conduct be considered an unreasonable search or seizure under the U.S. Constitution or the Florida Constitution? Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers, along with defense attorneys throughout the state, are often faced with answering these types of questions in defense of their clients.
The Florida and U.S. constitutions protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Searches conducted without a warrant are presumed unreasonable in Florida. Valid consent given to a law enforcement officer to search an individual’s person, personal property, or his or her home is an exception to the warrant requirement.
Safeguards are in place to protect Floridians from giving consent to law enforcement officers to conduct searches when that consent is not freely given. If consent to search, for example, is nothing more than a person submitting to law enforcement’s show of authority, the person will be deemed to have not given valid consent. The resulting warrantless search would then be unreasonable. Evidence that is discovered as a result of an unreasonable, warrantless search is subject to exclusion from use by the prosecution.
Exigent circumstances, in essence an emergency situation such as when an officer is in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect, is another exception to the warrant requirement that sometimes arises. In the case of the Durham officer lying to gain entry to the private residence in order gain entry into the home, what effect would the officer’s dishonesty have on the case pending criminal case for the person inside the home that was the subject of the arrest warrant if this were to take place in Florida? The answers to these types of questions often come down to specific facts and circumstances where a criminal defense lawyer’s knowledge and previous experience could mean a world of difference.
At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, our experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers are available for free consultations. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 to find out how our knowledge and experience can be used to help you or a loved one in a depending criminal case.