Are you facing criminal charges in the Orlando, FL area? Are you wondering how to get your charges dropped? One possible defense is suppression of evidence illegally seized by police.
Let’s consider an example: the defendant (the person charged with crimes) was arrested in a motel room but argues that police officers violated the Fourth Amendment when they entered his motel room to make the warrantless arrest and seizure of a small amount of marijuana.
Someone had reported smelling the odor of burning marijuana, but that was two hours earlier.
How could a criminal defense attorney argue that this seizure and the resulting arrest were unlawful?
- No warrant. In most circumstances, the police must obtain a search warrant to search a dwelling where the resident has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This includes a motel room rented to the occupant.
- No “Exigent Circumstances.” It could be lawful for police to enter a hotel room without a warrant if they had reason to believe that someone else within was in danger, such as a supposed violence victim. But, for a search such as this example, a warrant to search is normally necessary and an affidavit explaining the probable cause to believe that contraband (illegal drugs) is now on the premises must be shown to a Judge.
- Informant not credible. It could be that the person reporting the smell of marijuana has no record of giving reliable (truthful) information to the police. Maybe they didn’t even identify themselves when they called to complain about the smell.
- Staleness of the information. The informant smelled marijuana in or about the motel room two hours before their call. The odor has now dissipated and the information may be too old or “stale” to be relied upon.
- Violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that “each man’s home is his castle,” and protects against warrantless search. Quoting Cornell Law, it “protects the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” In most cases, the Fourth Amendment also applies to hotels, motels, and other rented accommodations because they are seen as temporary “homes.”
In many cases similar to the case example above, defendants can successfully appeal based on the defense of unlawful search and seizure. A criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in both Florida state and federal law can help you prove that the police violated the Fourth Amendment.
The rights to privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment are a strong argument against many arrests. However, there are circumstances where the law allows police to enter a home (including a hotel room) without a warrant and make an arrest.
When Can Police Lawfully Make a Warrantless Entry?
Here are a few ways that allow for lawful entry without warrant:
- Consent: If you voluntarily agree without being tricked or coerced into doing so, the police can search your property without a warrant. It’s essential to remember that police do not have to inform you that you have the right to refuse a search. Individuals have been arrested and even sent to jail because they did not know they had the right to refuse search and seizure and made the wrong choice.
- The Plain View Doctrine: Evidence can be seized if police are legally in an area and see illegal drugs or other contraband clearly visible in plain sight.
- Search Incident to Arrest: Police do not need a warrant to perform a search which is incidental to an arrest. In that event, the police have the right to protect themselves by searching for weapons. This often leads to finding of illegal drugs or evidence to be used in a criminal case.
The case example above mirrors the complex situations found in many Florida criminal cases. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can turn your story around by revealing mistakes and unlawful practices made by the police regarding your arrest. Don’t just accept your conviction – fight for justice! Call 407-425-4044 or contact us online for a free consultation.
The Law Office of Donald A. Lykkebak
390 N. Orange Ave., Suite 2300
Orlando, FL 32801