Florida Warrantless Search Cocaine in Back Yard Thrown Out

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Cops responded to anonymous tip that drugs were being sold from back-yard shed inside chain-link fence that surrounded the entire property. Court ruled that officers did not have reasonable suspicion sufficient to support warrantless entry into back yard. Even though cops said they based entry into the yard on their having witnessed the defendant drop a baggie on the ground while he was sitting outside the shed. They also claimed they saw a codefendant move his hands in “furtive motion” while standing inside shed.

Court ruled that the officer was not able to identify baggie's contents with certainty from her vantage point outside the fenced back yard, an area protected by Fourth Amendment from warrantless search. Since cops could not determine the illicit nature of contents of baggie and that was not immediately apparent, and only discoverable upon closer inspection, the officer's reasonable suspicion based upon her training and experience was insufficient to support warrantless entry into the fenced yard.

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Source: 33 Fla. L. Weekly D1582c