Articles Posted in Search and Seizure

What many people fail to realize is that all citizens of the United States have a Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches created by the U.S. Constitution, and any evidence that comes from an illegal search may be suppressed at trial. Florida’s constitution in Article I, Section 12, creates state law that mimics and reiterates the U.S. constitution.  Evidence can only be suppressed if it is obtained from an illegal search of a person or a person’s property.

So what is an illegal search?

handcuff-1425387-300x114The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution limits the power of police to make arrests, to search people and their property, and to seize objects and contraband. This amendment forms the cornerstone of search and seizure law.

“License and registration, please.”  If you have ever been pulled over by police, you have probably heard this phrase.  In recent years, Americans have grown more and more suspicious of police officers. With all that we see and hear on the news and in social media, arguably, there is cause for alarm in some cases.  In my practice as a Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer, I get questions regarding encounters with police regularly. Criminal defense lawyers can’t always give the definite answers that people are looking for, however. Much of what we can and cannot do under Florida law is based on the particular details of a situation.   There are certain rights that all Jacksonville criminal attorneys will tell you that can or should expect to be a given.

license and registration checkWith the popularity of smartphones with video recording capabilities, many people are taking it upon themselves to record officers. I recently watched a video online that showed a man pulled over at a DUI checkpoint. The driver refused to give the police officer his license and registration. The driver asked the police officer to explain what probable cause there was to ask for the driver’s license and registration.   The officer even threatened to have the man arrested for interference, but the driver didn’t fold. Instead he asked that a supervisor be called out to the scene. Once the supervising officer arrived, he leaned forward a little into the driver’s window and stated that there was no smell of an alcoholic beverage and told the driver he was free to go. The original officer who had demanded the driver’s license and registration and repeatedly said the U.S. Supreme Court and upheld DUI checkpoints looked very confused.

The likely reason that the supervising officer let the driver go about his business is that the United States Supreme Court in the case of Delaware v. Prouse back in 1979 held that it is improper for police, without “articulable and reasonable suspicion” to detain drives simply to check their licenses and registration.  The U.S. Constitution’s provision against unreasonable search and seizure provides a shield against this type of police conduct. Florida’s Constitution also protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. For more information or help with a case, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PPLC today. Initial consultations are free.

Search and seizure issues are normally at the top of the list in any criminal case where physical evidence is recovered from a defendant.  Florida law, like federal law, provides protection for citizens against illegal search and seizure. This protection stems from the Florida Constitution and the United States Constitution. At its essence, it is centered on idea that the government needs a good reason to intrude on a citizen’s expectation of privacy.   In criminal law, evidence that is gathered in violation of state or federal search and seizure law can be suppressed.  A good criminal defense lawyer will always immediately begin this analysis whenever hearing the facts of a new criminal case for the first time.

search and seizureRecently, in the case of Cole v. State of Florida, the Third District Court of Appeals (3rd DCA) reviewed a case involving an alleged violation of search and seizure law. Cole was charged with tampering with evidence, trafficking in cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia after he was pulled over by a police officer. The traffic stop had been initiated due to a faded temporary tag placed on the car Cole was driving. The defense filed a motion to suppress the evidence that it believed was the result of an illegal search. During the traffic stop, Cole acted nervous, clinched his fists, and held a pen tightly in his hand. He was also sweating and stuttering. The stopping officer believe that the pen could potentially be used and a weapon. She ordered Cole from the car to do a pat down. Florida law allows an officer to conduct a pat down when there is a reasonable suspicion that a person who is being temporarily detained may be armed with a weapon.   The court ruled that the pat down was reasonable under the circumstances.

As Cole was getting out of the car for the pat down, he threw something underneath the car. It was later discovered to be cocaine. During the pat down, something was felt in Cole’s sock, and the officer removed the item. It turned out to be cocaine, as well. The appellate court found that it was wrong for the officer to pull the bulge from Cole’s sock, but found that it would have been discovered anyway after Cole was arrested for the drugs that were thrown underneath the car. This is referred to as the “inevitable discovery” doctrine. The court said that it did not matter that the wrongful search by the officer came before the drugs under the car had been discovered. The appellate court held that the trial court was correct in denying Cole’s motion to suppress.

In general, a warrantless search at a person’s home will be considered unreasonable, unless one of five exceptions to the warrant requirement is met.  Evidence gained as a result of illegal searches can be suppressed by the trial court in a case.  Grounds for the issuance of a search warrant are governed by Florida Statute 933.02.   At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced criminal lawyers that can help if you or a loved one may have had your rights violated in a criminal case.  You can find answers to questions you may have by exploring our blogs on searches and seizures.  Initial consultations are free.  Call us today at (904) 685-1200 to schedule a consultation with an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. 

EvidenceRecently, the First District Court Appeal reversed and remanded the case of the State of Florida vs. Smith back to the trial court for further proceedings. The issue in the Smith case was whether the trial court was correct in suppressing evidence after a warrantless search. In my experience as a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, the issue of suppression evidence is one that clients are interested in pursuing, however, the circumstances that lead to evidence being suppressed won’t always be present in each case.  What are often viewed as illegal searches by average people are not looked at the same by Florida law. Continue reading

A Tennessee power company’s investigation into a neighborhood’s power shortage issues led to a large drug bust in the Tennessee countryside. Beneath the average looking countryside home was a million dollar “pot cave”. Marijuana was being grown in buckets, with an elaborate water and light system in place to maintain the plants, according to secretsofthefed.com. (Read the story here.) A secret entrance through the garage led to a cave that went back 50 yards into the hills the house was built against. The entrance was protected by a steel door, which was operated by a hydraulic motor.

The men that were running the marijuana operation had spliced into power lines, and stole an estimated $61,000 worth of electricity. In, Florida, this drug bust would have led to Grand Theft and Trafficking in Cannabis charges, among other things. Florida law calls for minimum sentences that apply in Trafficking cases, with three years being the lowest minimum that applies and fifteen years as the highest minimum. The maximum sentence allowable under Florida law is 30 years in Florida State Prison. Mandatory fines range from $25,000 to $200,000.

With these kinds of punishments as possibilities, finding the best criminal defense attorney available is a must. If you or a loved one have been arrested for a criminal offense in the Jacksonville area, experienced criminal defense lawyers are available for a free consultation at the Law Office of David M. Goldman. Call us today at (904) 685-1200.

Remaining silent is a right that should be exercised more often by people suspected of committing crimes, but unfortunately, people’s desire to explain themselves and tactics used by police oftentimes overcome a person’s better judgement. The best time to contact a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney is before you’ve talked to the police. In an ideal situation, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer even before you’re ever arrested.

The U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution, both, protect a person’s right against self-incrimination, meaning that a person can’t be forced to testify against himself or herself. In essence, a person cannot be forced to confess wrongdoing. These provisions are the source of the “Miranda” warnings that you often hear recited to suspects in crime dramas, such as “Law and Order”. The most prominent and important part of the warning is that the suspect has the right to remain silent; remaining silent is a great idea! For you protection, other than basic information like your name, etc, the only thing you should communicate with police about is your desire to have an attorney present.

Clients often think that there is no harm in speaking with an officer or a detective if the client has nothing to hide or hasn’t done anything wrong. The truth is that officers and detectives are searching for any information that can be used to solve the alleged crime, and a confession is the grand prize, even if you don’t realize you’ve confessed.
Continue reading

If you were to ask a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer when was a good time for his or her client to resist an officer, the most likely answer you would get is, “never”. Most of the time, resisting an officer invites unwanted trouble. Over the years I’ve seen many clients who could have avoided arrest all together by simply relaxing. Whatever the reason was that the officer had to “harass” the client went away, but the Resisting Without Violence offense that came as a result of the client walking away when the officer had a legally valid reason for the stop would still stick around; often leading to a night in jail and unnecessary court costs and other fees.

In a July 23, 2014 article entitled Know Your Rights Under Florida Law, I discussed some of the basics regarding what you should do (and not do) when you encounter police. That article also contains a link to an ACLU rights card that is available as a free download and is very informative about your rights. It is never a good idea to physically resist an officer, with incredibly limited exception. Usually, the consequences of not putting your hands behind your back as directed means an additional offenses being charged, additional fines, and the like. Well, in the case of 43 year old Eric Garner, the ultimate price was paid after Mr. Garner refused to be taken in to custody in New York.

Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by police while officers tried to subdue Mr. Garner, who pulled away when they attempted to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes, according to FindLaw.com. An eyewitness recorded the entire incident. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LSBpwmMnVM Continue reading

Criminal defense lawyers in Jacksonville, and throughout the State of Florida, oftentimes find their jobs more difficult because their clients were in the dark about their rights and what to do during an encounter with police. Evidence that otherwise would not have been available against a client is used to hurt the client after consent was unnecessarily given to search a car, house, etc. I’ve found that the average person is often nervous when they come into contact with police officers, whether the person has done something wrong or not. Perhaps the most important thing to do is to stay calm so that you can think clearly.
Thumbnail image for white_videobutton2501.jpg
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) provides general information that is very useful about the rights you should be aware of during police encounters– this information is critical and should be known by all U.S. Citizens and non-citizens alike, even if you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. Click here for a downloadable and printable card that you can carry with you, just as you carry your I.D. card or insurance card, everywhere you go.

Florida Statute 901.151 authorizes law enforcement, when there is a reasonable belief that there is a crime taking place, has taken place, or about to take place, to temporarily detain a person to find out who the person is and what are the circumstances that caused the person to be present. An officer may perform a pat down of the person detained, if there is probable cause to believe that the person is armed with a dangerous weapon. Under this type of encounter, a person would not be free to leave. However, an officer can only detain a citizen for as long as it takes to look into any suspicious behavior.
Continue reading

A Florida woman, unreasonably searched by being forced to shake out her bra when she was pulled over by a male Lakeland police officer, received a settlement of $25,000 from the city, according to theledger.com. The deal will keep the case out of court.

Florida constitutional law protects Floridians from unreasonable searches as and seizures. This protection from unreasonable searches mirrors the protections that are afforded by the U.S. Constitution. Click here to read the story.

Call the Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense and Litigation lawyer, Markus A. Sermons, to find out how our experience can assist you or a friend/family member assert your rights after an illegal search or seizure.

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.

DSC08925.JPGHow 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.
Continue reading

Contact Information