Florida Appellate Court Rules the that Search of a Florida House was Unconstitutional

Recently, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled on a protective-sweep search of a Florida residence in a Florida Possession of Cocaine, Marijuana, and Paraphernalia case. The Florida Court held that the search of a bedroom was unlawful which occurred during an arrest of a woman, Mary Rogers, in her residence.

In Rogers v. State, the police went to the defendant’s house, because a neighbor heard yelling and fighting. Police officers also heard the dispute and knocked on the door. A woman peaked through the window and police heard a man yelling not to open the door. The front door was unlocked, so the police entered, because they were concerned about the safety of the woman.

In the dining room, the officers saw pot in plain view. Upon doing a protective sweep, the cops realized the bedroom door was locked. The defendant, Mary Rogers, refused to open the door. By this time, Ms. Rogers and the other occupants of two other people were either handcuffed or seated at the dining room table. Thereafter, the police jimmied the lock and saw cocaine in an open dresser drawer, along with drug paraphernalia.

At the Motion to Suppress hearing, officers admitted that the bedroom was beyond the reach of the occupants of the residence, and they never asked the people in the house if there was anybody else in the residence before prying open the door. The State Attorney failed to present any evidence that indicated a need for the search of the locked bedroom. Therefore, the marijuana that police discovered in the dining room was lawfully admitted, because police discovered it in a location in which they were permitted. However, the cocaine and paraphernalia discovered in the bedroom should have been suppressed, because police were not permitted to enter the bedroom.

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