In Florida, one exception to a search warrant requirement is consent to search from the owner of the property or someone in possession of the property who appears to have authority to give consent. Police can generally walk up to any person, vehicle or residence and ask to search without a warrant and without probable cause. If that property owner agrees, the police are free to search. However, there are limitations, and people should always understand they have a constitutional right to refuse any police request to search one’s property.
In this case, police officers drove to the defendant’s property in a rural area south of Jacksonville, Florida. They went through an open fence and ignored the “No trespassing” signs. They knocked on the front door, but no one answered. The officers then got back into their vehicle and kept driving on the property to a barn where they found marijuana. They ultimately arrested the property owner for various marijuana charges.
The criminal defense attorney filed a motion to suppress all of the marijuana evidence because the police did not have a right to come onto their property and search it. At the hearing, the police officers testified they previously had permission to enter the property. It was determined during the hearing that the permission was given three years earlier by the previous property owner.