Drug Pat Down | Tampa Case Reversed

Drug Pat Down Search
Drug Defense Attorney recently reviewed a court ruling where drugs were suppressed after an illegal pat down. The court found there had been  a warrantless search. The trial judge ruled a Pat down was lawful. The Appeals panel reversed the circuit judge, ruling that the officers did not have reasonable suspicion. The defendant did not comply with an officers' requests to keep his hands out of his pockets. That fact was insufficient to establish reasonable suspicion. Motion to suppress drugs found during pat down should have been granted.

Case Quote:

"For a weapons pat-down search to be valid, an officer must identify objective facts indicating that the person detained is armed and dangerous. See Howell v. State, 725 So. 2d 429, 431 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999). But here, the only justification provided by the officers was the fact that Dawson refused to comply with their requests to keep his hands out of his pockets. That fact—standing alone—was insufficient to establish reasonable suspicion. The comment made by one officer that he believed Dawson "could have contraband or a weapon" was simply unsupported by any identifiable objective facts to lead him to that conclusion."

"Because "routine patdown searches based on general concern for officer safety are not constitutionally permitted," McNeil v. State, 995 So. 2d 525, 526 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008), the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct a pat-down search of Dawson and the trial court erred by denying the suppression motion."

The Complete Drug Pat Down Opinion can be read  here.

Source: 36 Fla. L. Weekly D804a



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