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When Is Inevitable Discovery Used In Florida Criminal Defense Cases

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2019 | Criminal Defense, Criminal Investigations

When you have been accused of a crime, depending on which, you may be faced with grave consequences, especially as highlighted by your attorneys in Stuart, FL. During this difficult time, the goal of the attorney will be to gather as much evidence as possible to prove your innocence in the case. While in some cases, your attorney may want to particularly look into the nature of charges for which you have been arrested and dragged to court, other times, through concrete evidence, your case may be dismissed or a plea agreement reached to lower the penalties associated with the charges leveled against you.

A great advantage provided by law to defendants, however, is the benefit of the doubt. The state and country laws allow the defendant a fair trial, this is regardless of the charges which have been brought up against them. During this fair trial, the accused is expected to argue out the charges, presenting actual and admissible evidence. The prosecutor will also be expected to make a case for themselves, also presenting evidence which has been obtained in a manner that did not violate the constitutional right of the defendant, including their right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures.

Experienced Port St. Lucie Criminal Defense Attorney

Getting a fair trial in the face of charges, whether misdemeanor, felony, or criminal, demands the expertise of an experienced attorney who understands the legal and court system, has a proven history of success, and additionally, is trial-ready and aggressive in their representation.

To better understand the evidence admissible in court and how they can be decided upon, how they can affect the outcome of your case and tip it either for or against you, read below;

2015 Trial

On December 10, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court, in a case between Miguel Rodriguez and State of Florida, case number SC24-160, saw the defendant challenge a decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, where he argued that the decision by the court came in conflict with the decision of the Florida Supreme Court and other district courts of appeal on the application of “inevitable discovery” doctrine as pertaining to criminal cases.

The Supreme Court in its judgment agreed with the defendant, noting that the Third District had improperly applied the “inevitable discovery doctrine” in the case at hand.

The case between Miguel Rodriguez and the state of Florida began when bail bondsmen found a huge stash of narcotics in the defendant’s home while they were in search of the client who had at the time gone missing. The bondsmen alerted the police and the police, without seeking a search warrant proceeded to search the house after seeking the defendant’s permission. The permission which was granted at the time, the court later found was obtained by coercion and under duress, therefore nullifying the consent which was given by Rodriguez.

The trial court, during the hearing of the case, did not suppress the evidence which was gathered unduly and relied improperly on the testimony of the law enforcement officers which was further established by the bondsman’s report to the police. The court also relied on the assumption that if the police had not gotten consent, they would have obtained a warrant to search the property and as such would have inevitably discovered the evidence. The Third DCA based on these assumptions affirmed the ruling.

Rodriguez, however, argued that the trial court had improperly relied on the inevitable discovery doctrine because the law enforcement had not already initiated investigations into the case at the time of the search. The defendant also argued further that the law enforcement was also not in the process of obtaining a warrant at the time of the search which comes in violation of his human rights.

Under the Inevitable discovery doctrine, the Supreme Court noted that such evidence which has been obtained as a result of unconstitutional police procedures such as warrantless search may be deemed admissible if, the evidence obtained would have ultimately been discovered by legal means during the course of the investigation. However, for such evidence to remain valid and admissible, the state must show that the police had already initiated an ongoing investigation and were also in the process of obtaining a warrant. Also, the state must prove to the court that there was enough probable course upon which the urge to demand and obtain a warrant is based, at the time of the unwarranted search.

The court, while deciding on the case between Miguel Rodriguez and the state of Florida noted that “permitting warrantless searches without the prosecution demonstrating that the police were in pursuit of a warrant is not a proper application of the inevitable discovery rule.” The court further added that the inevitable discovery doctrine cannot simply be applied when the police could have obtained a search warrant which would have validated the search, or could have taken steps towards obtaining one at the time of the unwarranted search.

The Decision

The case, in favor of Mr. Rodriguez, established that although the police could have gotten a warrant if they had requested one, they failed to pursue this, which leaves the uncertainty of whether or not the judge would have approved their request.

Also, the police asked for Rodriguez’s consent to search his house and it was affirmed that the consent was obtained under duress and as a result of coercion which also negates the stand of the law on such matters.

The Court held that: “We cannot apply the inevitable discovery rule in every case where the police had probable cause to obtain a warrant but simply failed to get one. Accordingly, the officers’ failure to seek a search warrant precludes the application of the inevitable discovery doctrine in this case.”

While this hearing favored the defendant, there is a need to reach out to tested and trusted attorneys with years of experience and aggressive legal services to pull this off. Whenever you are faced with such conditions as this, it is important to note that evidence which has been discovered due to the unwarranted search of your person and property, without express consent should be countered and fought against as inadmissible.