Florida Drug Charges: Probable Cause
Your due process rights ensure that you will receive fair treatment under the law. Florida police officers and prosecutors must always uphold the legal principles of due process. One of the most valuable due process rights that we all have is the freedom from an unlawful search or seizure. The Fourth Amendment protects you from search or seizure without probable cause. This is a major issue in many Florida drug arrest cases. If you were charged with a drug crime, please contact an experienced Tampa drug possession defense attorney who can ensure that your rights are fully protected.
Probable Cause Defined
When a judge makes a probable cause determination, the standard is set forth under Florida’s Search and Inspections Warrants statute. In general, it will be difficult to get a judge’s finding of probable cause overturned. Although, it is certainly possible and the issue should always be examined. However, police officers are also empowered to determine whether or not probable cause exists. Police officers have significantly less legal training than judges, and they often make probable cause decisions quickly. Your drug crimes defense attorney should always review the probable cause determination made by any Florida police officer. A valid finding of probable cause requires finding that:
- A reasonable person would have also believed that a crime had been committed; and
- A reasonable person would have agreed that the arrested or searched party was the one responsible for the potential crime in question.
The reasonable person standard is objective. The officer’s subjective beliefs will not control the result. That means that the officer could have acted in good faith, and truly believed that they were they were conducting a valid search, and they could still fall short of the requirements for probable cause. The determination depends entirely on what a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.
My Rights Were Violated, What Can I Do?
If your Fourth Amendments Rights have been violated by an unreasonable search, you need to speak to an experienced attorney for immediate help. Evidence that was gathered by conducting an unlawful search cannot be used against you. Your attorney can use the exclusionary rule to file a motion to suppress that ill-gotten evidence. A successful motion to suppress could get that evidence eliminated from your case. Further, there is a legal doctrine known as ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ which may provide you with additional protection. Under that rule, any evidence that was gained with the assistance of an unlawful search must also be excluded. For example, imagine that you were detained in an illegal stop, and then you later confessed that you had illicit drugs in your house. The confession only occurred because of the unlawful detainment. Without the unlawful detainment, your confession, and any other evidence acquired from searching your home, would likely have not been discoverable. Therefore, your attorney may be able to get all of that evidence excluded from your case. Without the evidence, your case may be dismissed entirely. Some evidence exclusion questions become very complex, so you should always have an experienced attorney comprehensively review the individual facts of your case to determine if any evidence can be suppressed.
Contact Our Office Today
You need to take drug charges seriously. If you have been arrested for drug possession, or any other drug crime, please contact the aggressive Florida defense attorneys at Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group today to schedule a free legal consultation.