Board Certified Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer, Near Tampa, Florida defends all drug crimes, including marijuana, cannabis, grow house cases and helps with medical marijuana and drug programs.
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Law Office of W.F. ''Casey'' Ebsary, Jr.
Marijuana Thrown Out - Overhead Emergency Lights | Seizure
Florida Marijuana Defense Lawyer / Attorney
Florida Marijuana Defense Attorney just reviewed another case where the cops claim they smell an odor of Cannabis / Marijuana under Florida State Chapter 893. The court threw the case out where the cop activated his emergency lights to investigate a legally parked car. During the investigation of the scofflaw, the cop smelled marijuana. Court ruled that activation of lights constituted a seizure without cause. Excerpts below. Full marijuana defense attorney's copy of opinion is here.
"At the suppression hearing, a deputy of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office testified that he was on duty in the early morning hours of April 11, 2010. At around 2:30 a.m., the deputy was driving on a residential street when he noticed an occupied SUV parked in front of a vacant open field. The SUV was legally parked, and its interior lights, headlights, andtail lights were all turned off."
Florida Marijuana Defense Lawyer Case Excerpts:
"The deputy saw one individual in the vehicle, seated in the driver’s seat. The deputy testified that he became
suspicious once he saw that the vehicle had no lights on. The deputy pulled in front of the SUV and parked “almost catty
corner” to where the SUV was parked. Although the deputy did not recall exactly how his police vehicle was positioned, he denied that he blocked in the SUV. The deputy activated his overhead emergency lights."
"The Florida Supreme Court has described three levels of police-citizen encounters: 1) a consensual encounter involving minimal contact during which the citizen is free to leave; 2) an investigatory stop or detention which requires a well-founded suspicion of criminal activity; and 3) an arrest supported by probable cause that a crime has been committed, or
is being committed. Popple v. State, 626 So. 2d 185, 186 (Fla. 1993). “During a consensual encounter a citizen may either voluntarily comply with a police officer’s requests or choose to ignore them. Because the citizen is free to leave during a consensual encounter, constitutional safeguards are not invoked.”"
"In this case, the question is whether appellant was seized before the officer approached his vehicle and smelled the marijuana. Activation of emergency police lights is one factor to be considered in a totality-of-thecircumstances
analysis of whether a seizure has occurred. G.M., 19 So. 3d at 974. Likewise, use of a spotlight or flashlight is another factor to be considered in evaluating whether a person would reasonably believe he was free to leave, but the use of a spotlight, without more, does not transform a consensual encounter into an investigatory stop. See State
v. Goodwin, 36 So. 3d 925, 927 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) (holding that the officer’s mere use of her spotlight and flashlight did not transform the consensual encounter into an investigatory stop)."
"Under the totality of the circumstances, where, as here, appellant was legally parked on a residential street and did not give any indication that he might be in need of police assistance, no reasonable person would have felt free to drive away after an officer activated his emergency lights and used a spotlight to illuminate the person’s parked vehicle. See G.M., 19 So. 3d at 980 (“Moreover, it would b e both dangerous and irresponsible for this Court to advise Florida citizens that they should feel free to simply ignore the officers, walk away, and refuse to interact with these officers under such circumstances.”)."
"Because the deputy seized appellant before detecting the odor of marijuana, and because the seizure was not founded upon reasonable suspicion, we reverse the denial of the motion to suppress and remand with directions for the trial court to vacate appellant’s convictions in this case. Reversed and Remanded."