Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, any police officer who conducts a search of a person’s home or vehicle must have ordinarily obtained a search warrant prior to doing so. In order to issue a search warrant, there must be probable cause that criminal activity was afoot and that the defendant committed or participated in the criminal activity.
If you have been charged with a crime in the State of Florida, it is essential that you have experienced legal representation on your side throughout your entire case. An experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney will be able to ensure that all of your legal rights are safeguarded while your case is pending.
‘Fruit of the Poisonous Tree’ Doctrine
If a law enforcement officer performs an unconstitutional search and obtains incriminating evidence, that evidence may be suppressed at the criminal trial, under some circumstances. The incriminating evidence is called the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ if it was uncovered during an unconstitutional search or seizure. For example, a police officer cannot ‘poke around’ a defendant’s home looking for evidence of a crime, such as drugs or drug paraphernalia, without first obtaining a search warrant. If drugs or drug paraphernalia are found, they could be suppressed at trial.
Exceptions to the Search Warrant Requirement
Even if a police officer has probable cause for a search – but does not have a search warrant – the search may still be deemed valid, and the recovered evidence admissible, if one or more of the following warrant exceptions exists:
- The defendant verbally consents to the home or vehicle search.
- The incriminating evidence is in plain view and is observable to the officer without having to move or manipulate it.
- The officer is conducting the search immediately after arresting the defendant.
- The officer has probable cause to believe that illegal contraband is located in a vehicle.
Contact a St. Petersburg, Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
If you have been charged with a crime in the State of Florida, it is important that you know and understand your legal rights. Our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys may be able to assist you with your case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense lawyer, please call us or contact us online.