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There is a Constitutional Right to Privacy in Hotel Rooms in Florida

In Florida, there is a well-protected Constitutional right to privacy and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in one’s home. While the privacy right is not as strong, one also has a similar Constitutional right in his/her hotel room. The police cannot just barge into a hotel room because they think it contains drugs or other evidence just because the occupant does not own the room. The police need to have one of the standard legal bases to enter the hotel room such as consent from one of the occupants of the room, a search warrant or an emergency situation.

In a recent case near Jacksonville, Florida, police received a call of a home invasion robbery. Earlier that day, the police had stopped two people in a vehicle that appeared suspicious. After the call, the police believed they had something to do with the robbery. During the previous stop, the police learned that they were staying at a nearby hotel. The police went to the hotel room and walked inside without consent or a search warrant. Only after they entered the hotel room did the police obtain consent to search from the occupants. After obtaining consent to search, they discovered evidence related to the robbery in the hotel room.

The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress the evidence found in the hotel room. He argued that it was unlawful for the police to enter the room without a search warrant, consent to enter or an emergency. The court agreed. It was clear that the police cannot just walk into an occupied hotel room just because they think there may be evidence of a crime inside. The police did obtain consent to search the hotel room after entering the hotel room, but by then, the Constitutional violation had already occurred. The police cannot rectify a Constitutional violation by getting retroactive consent to search after they have illegally entered the hotel room.