In a recent case before a district court in Florida, the State asked the court to reconsider the lower court’s decision to suppress evidence in a drug case. The lower court had originally ruled that the defendant’s motion to suppress should be granted, given that several police officers executing a warrant failed to knock and announce their presence prior to entering his hotel room. On appeal, however, the higher court found that the officers did not actually need to knock before entering, thus granting the State’s request and remanding the case back for further proceedings.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was residing in a hotel room, one that had sliding glass doors. While he was in the hotel room, officers came looking for him in order to execute a warrant for his arrest. Upon seeing him inside the room, the officers noticed the defendant had narcotics and drug paraphernalia around him.
The officers entered the defendant’s room and arrested him. The State later charged the defendant with possession of a controlled substance. Upon being charged, the defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing the officers should have knocked and announced their presence before entering the room. The lower court granted the motion, and the State promptly appealed.
On appeal, the higher court looked at Florida’s knock-and-announce statute, section 901.19, which explicitly states that an officer may only break into a building after knocking and announcing his or her presence. While it is true, said the court, that the officers did not abide by that practice here, they also did not need to do so.
Florida courts have ruled that when a defendant’s door is already open, the officers entering the home no longer have to abide by the “knock and announce” requirement laid out in section 901.19. In this defendant’s hotel room, the doors were completely wide open, which meant the officers were exempt from having to announce their presence before executing the arrest warrant.
Given the facts of the case, then, the higher court reversed the lower court’s decision to grant the motion to suppress. The court remanded the matter back to the lower court for additional proceedings.
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