Florida Court Discusses Specificity of Search Warrants

In order to convict someone of a DUI, the State generally must prove the person was driving while intoxicated, which it usually does through the introduction of evidence of the individual’s blood alcohol concentration. Thus, if the police improperly obtained a blood test and the results of the test are deemed inadmissible, the State may be unable to prove culpability. Recently, a Florida court discussed when the results of chemical testing should be suppressed in a case in which the defendant was charged with DUI manslaughter. If you are charged with a DUI crime, you could face significant penalties, and it is smart to meet with a trusted Sarasota DUI defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a collision that resulted in the death of another person. The police officer investigating the accident believed that the defendant was intoxicated and asked him if he would submit to a blood test. The defendant declined, after which the officer obtained a search warrant that allowed him to obtain two blood samples an hour apart. After securing the warrant, the officer obtained two vials of blood from the defendant via a single draw and did not collect a second sample. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of the test, arguing the police failed to comply with the warrant. The trial court granted the motion, and the State appealed.

Grounds for Suppressing Evidence Obtained Via a Search Warrant

The trial court relied on established Florida law stating that the purpose of requiring specificity in the description in a warrant of the things to be seized is to prevent general searches. The duty of an officer to explicitly describe the objects that will be taken under the warrant bars general searches and avoids an officer from confiscating one thing when another thing is described in the warrant. In other words, the requirement that a warrant must be particular limits the discretion of the officer that is conducting a search pursuant to the warrant by preventing an exploratory search under a general warrant.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the warrant in question was sufficiently specific and that the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion to suppress. Essentially, the trial court did not rule that the warrant was overbroad but decided to invalidate the warrant because the investigating officer conducted a more restrictive search than was permitted by the warrant. The appellate court noted that this ruling was without basis in the law, as prior rulings invalidating warrants dealt solely with warrants that permitted general or overly broad searches. As such, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Confer with a Dedicated Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

A DUI conviction can affect your rights, reputation, and relationships. If you are charged with DUI, it is advisable to confer with an attorney regarding your potential defenses. The dedicated Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law can inform you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Hanlon Law through the online form or by calling 941-462-1789 to set up a meeting.

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