Failure to return suspect’s driver’s license turns police encounter into a seizure, Second District Court of Appeals rules.

Last week, the Second District Court of Appeals overturned a Defendant’s conviction for possession of a controlled substance (carisoprodol).  The rulings by the 2nd District Court of Appeal are binding on the county and circuit court’s of Polk County.  That means the felony or misdemeanor judge in Polk County must follow the appellate court’s rulings in your case.

In this case, the suspect was walking home when the police asked for her license which she complied instead of walking away.  This made the initial encounter with police a “consensual encounter.”  She could have walked away and should have as the police officer had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain the citizen.  The citizen told the police she was walking home and trying to avoid the crazy traffic which was a reasonable explanation for her behavior.  The cop took her license and ran a warrants check which came back clean.  However, the police officer DID NOT give the defendant her license back, but instead asked for consent to search her.  The appellate court ruled that under the circumstances of this case, by not returning the license to the citizen, that the stop became a seizure.  The officer also did not tell her she was free to leave.  This unlawful seizure resulted invalidated the defendant’s consent to the search.  Therefore, the 2nd DCA ruled that the consent was not freely and voluntarily given and the evidence should be suppressed.

What does that mean when the court grants a motion to suppress evidence?  That means that the sheriff, police, or law enforcement violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.  The police had no right to search.  So, any evidence seized or collected is thrown out of court.  In his case, that means the controlled substance seized from the defendant can not be used in court against her.  The prosecutor must prove that the accused possessed an illegal drug, but with no drug to present to a jury, the criminal charges must be dismissed.

If you have been arrested because the police stopped and searched you, you may have a defense to the charge.  The police may have violated your rights.  You may have a Motion to Suppress that could get your criminal charges dismissed!

Call Thomas C. Grajek, an experienced Polk County criminal defense lawyer who keeps up to date on the latest case law that can help you when facing a serious felony or misdemeanor criminal charge.

CALL AND SET YOUR FREE OFFICE CONSULTATION NOW! 

Office — Lakeland, FL

Thomas C. Grajek  863-688-4606

 

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