The use of dogs to sniff out contraband remains one of the most frequent methods by which police discover contraband in vehicles traveling on the highway. The Supreme Court has allowed such searches in limited circumstances, but only in those instances where there is not a delay between the stop and the dog's arrival. Anything beyond a brief delay constitutes a seizure, which requires probable cause to be lawful. This "time-limiting doctrine" was firmly adopted by the Supreme Court in Rodriguez v. United States.
Thousands of sex offenders have been prosecuted for engaging in activity which most of us take for granted. In many jurisdictions, it is a felony for a registered sex offender to access the internet for any reason. Some statutes also prohibit offenders from creating Facebook profiles using LinkedIn, or using any forms of social media. These prohibitions make it virtually impossible for offenders to even own a smartphone. They create great hardship, preventing people from seeking jobs, places to live, or even from communicating with family members. The recent Supreme Court case of Packingham v. North Carolina makes it clear that such blanket prohibitions will no longer withstand judicial scrutiny.
It has been conventional wisdom for many years that police are allowed to lie to obtain incriminating statements against a defendant. For instance, during interrogation, police can tell the accused that an eyewitness has identified him as the person who committed the crime. Police also commonly and falsely claim that a co-defendant has confessed and implicated the defendant in the crime. Under the reasoning of the recently decided Pierce v. State, FLW (Fla. 1st DCA, June 6, 2017), however, police cannot misstate the application of Miranda v. Arizona to obtain a confession.
When judges sentence sex offenders to probation, they often require the defendants to "actively participate" and "successfully complete" a sex offender treatment program. The law does not specify what "successful completion" requires. It is generally understood that a defendant must cooperate with the treatment program's requirements in order to complete probation. This can create problems where treatment programs impose requirements that defendants were unaware of when they entered a guilty plea.
One of the first things we tell clients in our criminal defense practice is never give a law enforcement officer permission to search anything. The Constitution places strict limits on when law enforcement can perform a search, and oftentimes officers won't have a warrant or the probable cause they require when they want to search a suspect's property. However, the moment that a suspect consents to a police officer's search, most of that suspect's constitutional protections disappear. For this reason, "consensual encounters" are one of the most popular techniques that officers use to collect evidence. When an officer asks if he can search a vehicle, he usually is not just being polite, but likely has doubts about whether the constitution allows him to perform a search without the suspect's permission.
Most people are familiar with the "plain view" doctrine, which permits police officers to seize items without a warrant, if those items are clearly visible while the officer is performing his or her official duties. For instance, if an officer observes contraband after a lawful traffic stop, that contraband can be immediately seized. What happens when the officer "feels" an item; does the same doctrine apply? Beginning with the case of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), courts have not hesitated to apply the plain feel exception to warrantless searches.
On February 18, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeal decided the case of Norman v. State, 2015 WL 669582 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015). The defendant in Norman was arrested and charged with the offense of open carrying of a weapon, in violation of §790.053, Fla. Stat. (2012). He filed a motion to dismiss, which was denied by the trial court. However, the court certified three questions to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, all of which related to the constitutionality of Florida's open carry laws. Those questions were: (1) is Florida's statutory scheme related to the open carry of firearms constitutional; (2) do the exceptions to the prohibition against open carry constitute affirmative defenses to a prosecution for a charge of open carry, or does the State need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular defendant is not conducting himself or herself in the manner allowed; and (3) does the recent "brief and open display" exception unconstitutionally infect the open carry law by its vagueness?
Our ever vigilant clients recently brought to our attention a website claiming to be able to provide medical marijuana certificates. The website states that medical marijuana is already legal in Florida for those with a medical necessity. The website also claims that if a patient can prove medical necessity to a law enforcement officer, they are not subject to arrest. However, these claims are completely untrue.
There are three types of leaving the scene of an accident charges in Florida: