FAQs About Florida Police Searches in Your Absence
If you live in an apartment, condo, or other arrangement where you share residential space with others, you definitely place a certain amount of trust with these individuals. You’d never be OK with a roommate who steals, ruins your things, or threatens your loved ones. However, there’s a scenario you’d probably never even consider in the context of your relationship with your housemates: What they’ll do when the police show up to conduct a search and you’re not there. Section 12 of Florida Constitution Declaration of Rights protects you against unlawful searches and seizures, but the applicability of the law is very different when you weren’t around to consent to the investigation.
You should contact a Florida criminal defense attorney right away if you found yourself in such a position – and were either arrested or expect to be charged soon. There are very complicated issues involved in questions regarding illegal searches in absentia, but some answers to common questions may help.
What does the law regarding unlawful search and seizure say? The Florida Constitution recognizes the right of people to be secure in their homes against unlawful search, unless police have a warrant supported by probable cause. When officers knock on your door and demand to search your residence, you’re justified in declining if they don’t have a legal warrant.
How does the law work if someone else consents to a search? If someone else at your residence was around when police arrive, all officers need is someone’s consent to conduct a search. Plus, when they don’t have a warrant describing the areas and items to be searched, they essentially have unlimited authority to investigate all common areas. The only protection you have when you’re not at home is your own bedroom, since your roommates cannot consent to police going through this space.
Of course, if officers have and present a valid search warrant, they don’t need consent from you or anyone else to enter.
Can my landlord consent? No, your landlord is prohibited from letting law enforcement into your place for any reason – unless there’s indication that someone is in distress or some form of violent activity. This is true even if your lease states that your landlord can enter in the event of emergency, since police must still need a warrant under urgent circumstances.
What happens if the search was unlawful? When police infringe upon your constitutional rights through an unlawful search, any evidence they obtain will be deemed inadmissible in court. In other words, it must be tossed and cannot be used to prove allegations of criminal activity. If this happens, you’ll need to file a motion to suppress evidence; otherwise, prosecutors will definitely try to use it against you.
Consult with a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Rights
For more information on unconstitutional searches and your rights, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik at our office. We can set up a confidential consultation to review your circumstance and develop a strategy to have illegally obtained evidence tossed out of court.