Trafficking in Hydrocodone, Defendant’s Motion To Suppress
Trafficking is defined under Florida criminal drug laws as,
“Any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of X amount of a controlled substance or illegal drug.”
Florida drug trafficking statues have explicit quantities of each substance for the charge to qualify as trafficking. Drug Trafficking is a very serious criminal charge, and one that is strongly pursued by law enforcement officials in Florida. Trafficking is often “over charged” for that same reason and Florida prosecutors are aggressive in trying to get drug convictions.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects personal privacy, and every citizen’s right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their persons, homes, businesses, and property — whether through police stops of citizens on the street, arrests, or searches of homes and businesses.
Lawmakers and the courts have put in place legal safeguards to ensure that law enforcement officers interfere with individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights only under limited circumstances, and through specific methods.
What Does the Fourth Amendment Protect?
In the criminal law realm, Fourth Amendment “search and seizure” protections extend to:
A law enforcement officer’s physical apprehension or “seizure” of a person, by way of a stop or arrest; and
Police searches of places and items in which an individual has a legitimate expectation of privacy — his or her person, clothing, purse, luggage, vehicle, house, apartment, hotel room, and place of business, to name a few examples.
The Fourth Amendment provides safeguards to individuals during searches and detentions, and prevents unlawfully seized items from being used as evidence in criminal cases. The degree of protection available in a particular case depends on the nature of the detention or arrest, the characteristics of the place searched, and the circumstances under which the search takes place.
Oxycodone is a powerful and addictive pain medication that is often abused as recreation. Oxycodone charges include possession of Oxycodone, drug trafficking, racketeering and prescription fraud. These may lead to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years or longer, as well as fines and a criminal record that haunts you the rest of your life.
At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, Florida, our defense team has many years representing clients charged with drug crimes. We have a thorough understanding of Florida laws and how to apply them to your unique case. Contact our firm to discuss your case in a free initial consultation.
Many Oxycodone offense cases involve false allegations. The police may notice the medication during a routine traffic stop and charge you with possession. If the amount of Oxycodone is over four grams, the police can charge you with drug trafficking. However, neither of these are valid allegations if you have a prescription for the medication or the pills were left over from a former prescription. If you have a prescription, having possession of the drugs is legal.
The law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., is involved in many high profile criminal cases throughout Florida. One of our cases involved a doctor charged with racketeering and administering Oxycodone, Methodone and Roxicodone unlawfully. By being proactive, we can often resolve these cases in our clients’ favor.
Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at 561.880.4300Se habla español.
Drug Trafficking Case
Listed below in its entirety is a DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO SUPPRESS, from the law office of ANDREW D. STINE
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE 15TH JUDICIAL CIRCIT
IN AND FOR PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA
STATE OF FLORIDA, Case Number: 2012-CF-1406
DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
Defendant, YC, by and through his undersigned counsel moves this Honorable Court pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190(i), the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article I See 12 of the Florida Constitution for the entry of an order suppressing evidence that was derived from a seizure and in support thereof submits as follows:
Fifty two pills containing oxycodone and hydrocodone should be suppressed because law enforcement obtained them as a result of an unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article I § 12 of the Florida Constitution.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Defendant is charged via information with trafficking in hydrocodone, a first degree felony. The facts leading up to his arrest and charge are as follows:
On or about February 4, 2012 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement learned that a T-Mobile store in Jacksonville, Florida was burglarized. The items stolen from T-Mobile were 80 cellular telephones. FDLE was able to track the stolen units via GPS to and address located at 3025 Alice Drive, Palm Springs, Palm Beach County, Florida. FDLE Sergeant Varela obtained a search warrant for that address to locate and seize the stolen cellular telephones. The warrant contained the specific number and models of cellular telephones that were stolen during the burglary in Jacksonville, Florida. The warrant further authorized a search of the residence and its surrounding cartilages to discover the cellular telephones. It did not provide carte blanche to search for all contraband from any and every illegal activity.
The address that was searched is a residence. Defendant resides at that address with other individuals, including but not limited to N. H. and E. E. The residence contains 2 bedrooms and an office. All 3 rooms are occupied, accessible and utilized by all of the residents.
During the execution of the warrant, the residents were secured. The police then conducted the search. The officers searched all 3 rooms and located the stolen telephones. They also observed in plain view marijuana and drug paraphernalia. During the search of the third bedroom the officers looked in a dresser. The search of the dresser disclosed two prescription bill bottles. Both of the bill bottles were dark and opaque such that the contents of the bottles could not be seen without opening the bottles. At that very moment, the officers opened the pill bottles looked inside and seized 40 tablets. Subsequently, the tablets tested positive for oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Defendant’s charge is based upon the weight of the controlled substances contained in the tablets.
Defendant now moves to suppress the tablets as evidence.
MEMORANDUM OF LAW
1. The Law
It is an established principle of constitutional law that a search warrant must contain a particular description of the items of property it authorizes the officers to seize. Us. Const. amend IV; Art. 1, § 12, Fla. Const. (1968). The purpose of this requirement is to eliminate exploratory searches and to prevent officers from seizing one thing under the authority of a warrant describing another. Marron v. United States, 275 U.S. 192, 196, 48 S.Ct. 74, 72 L.Ed. 231 (1927); Carlton v. State, 449 So.2d 250, 251-52 (Fla. 1984). The particularity requirement limits an officer’s discretion in executing a search warrant. This is meant to protect an individual from arbitrary invasions of his/her privacy. In determining whether the particularity requirement has been satisfied in a given case, the courts may properly consider the purpose for which the search warrant was issued. If the object of the warrant is to seize specific items of property, those items must be described in detail. Carlton, 449 So.2d at 252; Green v. State, 688 So.2d 01, 306 (Fla. 1996); Sims v. State, 483 So.2d 81 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986).
The scope of a lawful search of a fixed premise pursuant to a warrant extends to the entire area in which the object of the search may be found. See United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798, 102 S.Ct. 2157, 72 L.Ed.2d 572 (1982). This includes the authority to search any containers that would reasonably contain the items specified in the warrant. Id.; Jackson v. State, 18 So.3d 1016, 1027-29 (Fla.2009) State v. Ridgeway, 718 So.2d 318 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981); State v. Weber, 548 So.2d 846 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1989).
In this case, there is no question that law enforcement officers entered Defendant’s home under the lawful authority of a valid search warrant. Likewise, there is no question that the officers had a right to search the dresser in the third bedroom (since it is conceivable that it contained stolen cell phones). That is where the authority to search stopped. The officers had no constitutional right to search the prescription pill bottle and seize the pills contained within the bottles. The items specifically listed in the warrant are cellular telephones. None of the cell phones could fit inside the prescription pill bottles. In other words, a pill bottle is not a reasonable place, area or container in which one would conceal a cell phone. Therefore, it is axiomatic that the pill bottles were outside the lawful scope of the search warrant for cellular telephones. Simply, the search warrant did not extend to the prescription bill bottles.
Here, the officers searched the pill bottles without a warrant. Therefore, the search is per se unreasonable. Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 514, 19 L.Ed.2d 576, 585 (1967). Higerd v. State, 54 So. 3d 513 (Fla. I” DCA 2010); State v. Brown, 36 So. 3d 770 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2010); Diaz v. State, 34 So. 3d 797 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010). In this case, there were no exigent circumstances that existed which excuse the warrant requirement. The residents and the house were secured. No person was in danger. The evidence could not be destroyed. No consent was given for the search and the search was not incident to a lawful arrest. As such, the search of the pill bottle was unlawful and corresponding seizure of its contents (the pills) are the fruit of an unlawful search. As such it must be suppressed. Moody v. State, 842 So.2d 754, 759 (Fla.2003); Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471,484-88,83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963).
The motion should be granted and the pills should be suppressed as evidence at trial.
WHEREFORE, Defendant respectfully requests that the motion be granted, that
pills be suppressed as evidence and for such further relief as this Honorable Court deems
just and proper.
Andrew David Stine, Esq.
120 South Olive Avenue
West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing has been served
upon the State Attorney for Palm Beach County via hand delivery on October
Andrew David Stine, Esq.