People in Florida have very strong privacy rights in their homes, and police can only enter a person’s home in limited circumstances. Normally, the police will either need a valid search warrant, consent from an authorized person or an emergency making it necessary to enter a person’s home when there is no time to get a search warrant. Absent one of those situations, a police officer’s search of or in a person’s home will likely be illegal.
In a recent possession of marijuana case near Jacksonville, Florida, the police responded to a domestic disturbance call involving a husband and wife. The husband and wife met the police officers in the front yard, and everyone decided that the husband should spend the night somewhere else. The police officers offered to give the husband a ride to a friend’s house. The husband indicated he had a knife on him that he needed to put back in his house. The police officers followed him into the house and saw that he had a bag of marijuana in his pocket. The police officers arrested him for possession of marijuana.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress the evidence of the marijuana. The criminal defense attorney argued that the police officers did not have a right to enter the defendant’s home and as a result, any evidence found in the home should be suppressed. The Court agreed. The police officers did not have a search warrant, and there was no emergency that justified entry into the defendant’s house. While the defendant apparently did not object when the police officers followed him into his house, that is not the same as affirmative consent. Because the police officers did not have a legal basis to enter the house where they found the marijuana, the evidence of the marijuana was suppressed and the possession of marijuana charge was thrown out.