In a recent opinion by the 5th District Court of Appeals, the court reaffirmed the rule that police must have a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed a crime before detaining the person to conduct further investigation. The defendant in the case was seen leaving a pharmacy at 11:30 a.m. holding a white bag. He then got into a car that was occupied by two other people. After the vehicle drove away, police followed the car and pulled the car over. The defendant was asked to step out of the car and the police seized controlled substances found on him.
The defendant was later charged with the unlawful sale of the controlled substance and his criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress the evidence claiming that the stop and search violated his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The trial court denied the motion to suppress.
On appeal, the court reversed the conviction and held that the particular facts of the case did not give police a reasonable suspicion that a crime had occurred. The officers did not observe any direct evidence of a crime and the circumstances gave police no more than a hunch that a crime may have occurred. The motion to suppress should have been granted and the drugs suppressed.
The author is a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney.