Thursday, December 11, 2014

Criminal Law | Search Warrants

Coronado v. State, 39 FLW D2113b (Fla. 2d DCA) – October 8, 2014
Deputies responded to a location to serve an outstanding arrest warrant.  Upon arriving, they noticed a grey pickup truck parked at the premises.  A registration check disclosed that the tag on the truck was registered to an Audi which had been reported stolen in 2013.  The officers made contact with the owner of the property, and after determining that the subject of the arrest warrant was not present, asked her about the truck.  She advised that the truck belonged to her son, and called him outside.  He advised the officers that he had found the tag in a ditch, and kept it.  During the conversation the deputies noticed numerous vehicles and car parts on the premises. The defendant explained that he scrapped cars and repaired vehicles for his friends.  The deputies sought and received permission to walk around the property looking for the stolen Audi.  During the walk, one of the deputies noticed the odor of marijuana emanating from a small shed in the yard, which was located about thirty feet from the house.  They sought permission to search the shed, which was denied. Based on these events, the deputy drafted a search warrant affidavit requesting to search not only the shed, back yard, and vehicles on the property, but also the residence, alleging that probable cause existed that the residence was being used in violation of Chapter 893.  The warrant was granted.  No marijuana was found in the shed, nor stolen vehicles/parts found in the yard, but a small amount of methamphetamine was located during the search of the residence.  During the suppression hearing, the deputy testified that he had smelled burnt marijuana coming from the shed, and included the residence in the warrant because in his experience it was not uncommon to locate items of evidentiary value in a home which was so close to another structure believed to contain contraband, such as the shed.  The defendant argued that the odor of marijuana from a shed does not extend probable cause to the home.  The trial court denied the suppression and admitted the evidence.  The defendant appealed.  The Second District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court, finding that the warrant application failed to establish probable cause the search the residence.  The evidence was suppressed.