In a recent case, Rozzo v. State of Florida, the 4th District Court heard an appeal from the Circuit Court for the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County. The issue presented before the court was whether the consent given by the homeowners after and unlawful warrantless entry and protective sweep of the home was valid and therefore the defendant’s motion to suppress should be denied.
The issue arose after the trial court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence discovered inside the house following his arrest. In this case, the defendant sold drugs to an undercover officer on the street by his house. The officers arrested the defendant on the street. The officers then moved to the house, owned by the defendant’s parents. The officers proceeded to order the parents to stay outside during the “protective sweep.” Then the officers got a signed Consent form to search the house. The search revealed other drug related items in the defendant’s bedroom.
The U.S. Constitution, 4th Amendment has established a high reasonable expectation of privacy regarding one’s home. Furthermore, Florida Courts have established absent consent or exigent circumstances, police may not enter a home without a warrant. Additionally, Florida Courts have only permitted a “protective sweep” if the officers have reasonable, articulable suspicion to protect the safety of the officers or to prevent the destruction of evidence.
In this case, the defendant was arrested outside the home and the officers had no suspicion that evidence was being destroyed or officer safety. This fact was even testified to by one officer who stated the protective sweep was “routine and of generalized concern.” Therefore the trial court erred in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress. Since the protective sweep was illegal, the subsequent consent to search the home given by the father was tainted. Therefore, the evidence seized during the illegal search was fruit from the poisonous tree and therefore inadmissible.
This is just one of many legal nuances that a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer can investigate and potentially advance in your criminal case. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or have criminal charges pending against you, contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer to discuss your case and to determine what the best course of action for moving forward.