In Florida, if the police want to search a person’s home for drugs or other incriminating evidence, they would normally need a search warrant that can only be validly obtained if the police have probable cause to believe drugs or other evidence is in the home. The police can always go to the house and ask for consent to search it, but without that consent, a search warrant is typically required.
However, there can be exceptions. In a recent manufacture of marijuana and possession of marijuana case near Jacksonville, Florida, the police got an anonymous tip that the defendant was growing marijuana in his house. An anonymous tip alone is never going to be sufficient to get a valid search warrant for a house so the police did what is called a knock and talk where they walk up to the front door, knock and talk to the occupant. When the defendant opened the door, the police indicated they smelled marijuana in the home. The police officer went into the house and saw marijuana in plan view. They then got consent to search the home from the defendant. The police found more marijuana and marijuana plants and arrested the defendant for the marijuana charges.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress evidence of the marijuana arguing that the police did not have a right to enter the home where they saw the marijuana. The police should have obtained a search warrant or consent to search before entering the home. Since they got consent to search only after entering the home illegally, the consent to search the home was invalid.
The judge disagreed. The court found that the police had a right to knock on the door and talk to the defendant based on the anonymous tip. Once they smelled the marijuana, the judge found that the police had a right to enter the home. Once they saw the marijuana in the home, the judge found that they could search. In any case, the judge found that the consent to search that was obtained at that point was valid and allowed the police to search the home.