Police searched the home of a Jacksonville, Florida couple on East Stanford Road and found illegal mushrooms growing in one of the closets, according to an article on News4Jax.com. The criminal drug statutes in Florida cover possession and manufacture of many illegal drugs including these kinds of mushrooms. However, in cases such as this where the police go into someone’s home based on an anonymous tip, the search of the house and seizure of the mushrooms may not be legal. Police often get anonymous tips about certain allegedly criminal activity, but that kind of tip alone does not authorize the police to search someone’s house.
Under the Florida and U.S. Constitutions, a person has a strong privacy interest in being free from illegal searches and seizures in his/her home. Because of that Constitutional protection, the police cannot just come into a person’s home, or get a search warrant, based on an anonymous tip. The tip has to be specifically verified or corroborated before it can even be considered as a legitimate basis for a search. Any time an anonymous tip is used by the police as a reason for a search, the criminal defense lawyer should closely scrutinize all of the facts the police allegedly had to justify the search and consider a motion to suppress any evidence found as a result of the search based on the defense that the search was illegal. If the search is found to be illegal, any evidence of illegal drugs found during the search will be thrown out of court.