It is important for all Tampa citizens to know what rights they are afforded under the law. For example, with some exceptions, the police are not permitted to search your property without a warrant or your consent. If you grant the police access to your property, however, it is possible that any evidence of a crime found during a search of the property could be used against you, even if you were not suspected of a crime prior to the search.
This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in which the defendant’s conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm was upheld after he gave the police permission to search his garage. If you are a resident of Tampa currently charged with a weapons crime, you should meet with a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss your available defenses.
Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction
Allegedly, the incident in question began when police officers arrived at a residence with a warrant, looking for a shooting suspect. The defendant, who was not the suspect at the time, suggested they check the garage. The police saw a gun on a table and seized and disarmed it. The officer also called the serial number into the police system to determine whether it was stolen. The defendant was standing nearby, unrestrained, during the investigation, and advised the officers he had been to prison. The defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. During his trial he filed a motion to suppress evidence of the firearm, arguing that it was obtained via an illegal search and seizure. The court denied the motion and the defendant was convicted. He subsequently appealed, arguing that the trial court wrongfully denied his motion and that his prior convictions did not qualify as violent felonies.
Court Analysis of Unreasonable Search and Seizure
On appeal, while the defendant conceded that the initial seizure of the gun was lawful, he argued that the continued possession of the gun and the entry of the serial number into the police system constituted an unreasonable search and seizure. The court was not persuaded by this argument, finding that because the original possession of the gun was lawful the inquiry into the serial number did not constitute a search. Further, the court held that the ultimate seizure of the gun was lawful under the plain-view doctrine. Specifically, the officer was lawfully permitted to be in the garage, the firearm was in plain view, and the incriminating nature of the firearm was immediately apparent, due to the defendant’s admission he had been to prison. As such, the court found the trial court did not err in denying the motion to suppress.
Violent Felonies under Florida Law
The court also rejected the argument that the defendant’s prior convictions for aggravated assault and aggravated battery did not qualify as violent felonies. The court noted that the ACCA definition of a violent felony includes any crime that involves conduct that presents a serious risk of potential physical injury to another person. The court found that both aggravated assault and aggravated battery had previously been held by the Florida courts to constitute violent felonies because they involved the use of force against another person. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Meet with an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you are a Tampa resident facing weapons charges, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine a plan that will provide you with a good chance for a favorable outcome under the facts of your case. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law will diligently work to help you retain your rights. He can be contacted at 813-228-7095 or through the online form to schedule a meeting.
More Blog Posts:
Florida Appeals Court Orders New Trial for Man Convicted of Robbery, October 2, 2018, Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog