Jacksonville Illegal Search and Seizure in Criminal Drug Cases

In some Jacksonville criminal drug cases, police conduct an illegal search and/or seizure. For instance, a police officer may search a person or a person’s home in a manner that violates the 4th amendment of the Constitution. If a Jacksonville illegal search occurs and police find drugs (or other incriminating evidence), that evidence may be suppressed. If the evidence is suppressed, the State Attorney cannot introduce this evidence at trial.

Recently, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal ruled on the legality of a residential search. In State v. Ojeda (opinion filed Oct. 27, 2010), the defendant, Ojeda, filed a motion to suppress marijuana on the grounds that his consent to search the residence was coerced by an unreasonable display of police force. Seven police officers went to Ojeda’s residence. Some officers went to the door and others spread out around the residence. When Ojeda answered the door, a detective stated that he had been given a tip that pot was being cultivated inside the house. Ojeda invited police into the house and stated post-Miranda that he was willing to cooperate with the investigation. Five officers entered the house, and Ojeda signed a consent-to-search form and led to the discovery of a large amount of marijuana.

The court ruled that, unless there is valid consent or exigent circumstances, the police must obtain a warrant to search private property. Therefore, the motion to suppress was granted. The court reasoned that the unreasonable display of police presence outside the residence would have made a reasonable person believe that he had no choice but to acquiesce. There were no exigent circumstances present, and the police should have taken the time to get a warrant.

If a police officer searches a Jacksonville residence and finds an illegal substance, the police officer needs a warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement. If the facts of the Jacksonville criminal drug case is similar to the facts in State v. Ojeda, the Jacksonville criminal defendant may make a motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence.

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