"HOT PURSUIT" DOES NOT PERMIT THE WARRANTLESS ENTRY INTO A HOME TO ARREST FOR NON-VIOLENT MISDEMEANOR
While the 2016 election is most notable for selecting the nation's next president, Florida voters are also deciding on some important amendments to the state's constitution. Not the least of which is Amendment 2, which is poised to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Twenty-five states currently have laws that allow medical marijuana in some form. If Florida joins these states, the Amendment will create a new framework for prescribing, distributing, and possessing medical marijuana.
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.
With what appears to be the imminent legalization of medical marijuana in Florida, questions have begun to arise as to what may happen in the event Officer Friendly believes that a citizen is driving under the influence of marijuana. In Florida's an officer's request for breath, urine, or blood must be made incident to a lawful arrest. Before the law enforcement officer can make such a request under Florida's implied consent statute, the driver must be arrested. This does not prevent the law enforcement officer from seeking a driver's consent before an arrest, such request for consent should be politely but firmly declined.
If organizers are successful, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote to amend the Constitution of Florida to allow ill Floridians legal access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. United for Care, a grassroots organization, is currently collecting signatures to ensure that Floridians get the chance to vote on medical marijuana in 2014.
We are often asked whether police officers have the right to approach a person's home without a warrant and then use what they observe to search the home. Generally, in the absence of "no trespassing" signs or fences, officers have the right to engage in what is referred to a "knock and talk" of a home, that is they have the right to walk on the sidewalk of your home, knock on your front door and engage you in a "consensual encounter." They do not have the right to conduct warrantless searches of your property. Nor do they have the right to enter into your backyard. In fact, the right to engage you is extremely limited. Law enforcement personnel often exceed the authority given to them under the walk and talk doctrine. This article discusses two cases which have limited the ability of police officers to conduct warrantless searches in the curtilage of your home and what you should do to protect yourself from unlawful searches and seizures on your property.
Ask most people whether billions of dollars should be spent arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people for marijuana offenses and the answer will be a resounding "no." Recent polling in Florida indicates over 70% of the state's voters favor legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, which is what makes a just released study by the American Civil Liberties Union entitled The War on Marijuana in Black and White so disturbing. Not only are we spending more money every year trying to lock people up for smoking a plant, we are doing so based on race.
Many people mistakenly believe that if a police officer smells marijuana coming from their vehicle, it's game over and time to plead guilty.