Florida Court Discusses Reasonable Suspicion in Criminal Cases

If law enforcement suspects that people are engaged in unlawful activity within a residence, they will typically obtain a warrant to search the property and seize any evidence of illegal behavior. The police must have more than a hunch that a person is breaking the law to obtain a warrant, though, and if a warrant is issued without just cause, any evidence obtained via the subsequent search may be inadmissible. Recently, a Florida court explained what constitutes reasonable suspicion for the purposes of issuing a warrant, in a case in which the defendant moved to suppress evidence that led to numerous theft and weapons charges, on the basis that the court lacked adequate grounds to issue a warrant. If you are charged with a theft crime, it is advisable to speak to a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to determine what you can do to protect your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges

Allegedly, the police searched the defendant’s home pursuant to a warrant and found firearms, weapons paraphernalia, evidence of fraud, and electronic identity theft devices. The defendant was subsequently charged with aggravated identity theft and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of federal law. He moved for suppression of the evidence obtained via the warrant. The case was referred to a magistrate judge, who issued a report recommending that the court deny the motion. The defendant filed objections in response to the recommendation. The court ultimately found the defendant’s objections unavailing and denied his motion.

Reasonable Suspicion in Criminal Cases

Under the Fourth Amendment, warrants will not be issued absent probable cause, supported by an affirmation or oath that specifically describes the place to be searched and the things or people to be seized. Probable cause to issue a search warrant is present when the circumstances, taken as a whole, demonstrate that there is a fair likelihood that evidence of a crime or contraband will be found in a particular case.

In the subject case, the crux of the defendant’s argument was that the supporting affidavit lacked probable cause to issue a search warrant. The court was not persuaded by this argument, however, noting that the defendant posted a video to his social media account ten days prior to the search warrant application that depicted a convicted felon holding a firearm. Thus, the court found that the affidavit in support of the warrant did not lack probable cause and denied the defendant’s motion to suppress.

Speak to a Knowledgeable St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney

Simply because the government has evidence that a person committed a crime does not mean it will be able to introduce the evidence at trial. If you are charged with theft or any other offense, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a knowledgeable St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you seek a favorable outcome, and if you hire him, he will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or via the form online to set up a conference.

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