Oftentimes, criminal defense attorneys write Motions to Suppress evidence obtained illegally by law enforcement. Drug crime attorney Philip M. Snyder wrote the following Motion to Suppress the illegal entry into a motel room occupied by the Defendant. As a result of the illegal entry, law enforcement uncovered trafficking amounts of narcotics, including oxycodone. Prior to filing the Motion, the State Attorney’s Office was requesting the Court to adjudicate the Defendant and sentence him to three years in prison. The Defendant eventually accepted a negotiated plea to a withhold of adjudication and probation.
The Defendant’s name has been hidden for privacy reasons.
The spacing has been distorted from its original form.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 17TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA
STATE OF FLORIDA, Case No.: xxxxxxxxxxx Plaintiff, Judge: xxxxxx
**** , BRIAN,
MOTION TO SUPPRESS
COMES NOW the defendant, by and through his undersigned attorney pursuant
to Rules 3.190(h), (i), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, and moves this Honorable Court to
suppress all evidence seized from the defendant’s person and motel room and all statements
elicited as a result of the illegal detention of the defendant. As grounds therefore the defendant
would show that the evidence was obtained as a direct result of an unlawful Search and Seizure,
in violation of the defendant’s rights guaranteed by the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments of the
United States Constitution, Article 1 Section 9 and 16 of the Florida Constitution. Pursuant to
Rule 3.190(h)(3), the defendant requests an Evidentiary Hearing to address the issues presented
by this Motion. As grounds in support of said Motion, the defendant would state as follows:
Did law enforcement legally enter the defendant’s motel room without a warrant to procure narcotics?
- On May 12, 2010 at approximately 2:15 a.m., Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Robert Morris (hereinafter “MORRIS”) was on routine patrol at the Crossroads Extended Stay Motel (hereinafter “MOTEL”). 
- After driving around the MOTEL’s parking lot a few times, MORRIS observed a “verbal disturbance” in an overhang threshold near the front of the MOTEL. 
- Although MORRIS did not observe any criminal activity or physical violence, MORRIS parked his police vehicle in the parking lot to further investigate. 
- Upon MORRIS’ approach, an unknown male, later identified as the defendant, Brian **** (herein after “**** ”), alerted to MORRIS’ presence. 
- At this point, and for the first time, MORRIS allegedly observed **** gripping a small crack cocaine pipe in his hand. 
- **** quickly retreated back to his motel room (room 106) which was located in close proximity to the front of the MOTEL. 
- **** entered his motel room, allegedly leaving the door partially open behind him. 
- MORRIS entered the threshold of **** ’s motel room and stood in the open doorway. 
- From the threshold of the motel room, MORRIS allegedly observed **** discard baggies of drugs and drug paraphernalia onto the bed. 
- MORRIS did not follow **** into the motel room in “hot pursuit” and instead ordered **** outside the motel room. 
- **** exited his motel room within thirty (30) seconds of MORRIS’ command to exit, attempting to close door behind him. 
- MORRIS immediately detained **** outside the motel room before the door could close. 
- MORRIS handcuffed **** outside his motel room.
- From the threshold, MORRIS could see that there were not any other individuals in the small, efficiency-style motel room; **** ’s motel room was empty. 
- Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Fopiano (hereinafter “FOPIANO” arrived on scene. 
- Instead of obtaining a search warrant, MORRIS directed FOPIANO to enter **** ’s motel room to retrieve the baggies of drugs and drug paraphernalia. 
- MORRIS and **** entered the motel room almost contemporaneously with FOPIANO.  MORRIS did not ask for **** ’s consent to enter his motel room.
- Fort Lauderdale Police subsequently arrested **** for various drug-related offenses. **** allegedly made various “spontaneous” statements concerning the recovered drugs after being detained.
- MORRIS (and FOPIANO) entered **** ’s motel room without a warrant as a result of MORRIS’ observations of **** discarding baggies of drugs and drug paraphernalia onto the bed.
- MORRIS could not point to any set of facts that precluded the opportunity to obtain a search warrant to search **** ’s motel room after **** was detained. 
Law enforcement did not legally enter the defendant’s motel room without a warrant to search for narcotics.
MEMORANDUM OF LAW
Law enforcement officers may not enter a legally occupied motel room without a warrant.  For Fourth Amendment purposes a motel room is considered a private dwelling where the occupant is legally there, has paid for the room, and has not been asked to leave.  Thus, legal occupants of a motel room are entitled to the strictest Fourth Amendment protections from illegal entry, searches and seizures. 
Warrantless searches or arrests conducted in constitutionally protected area like a motel room are per se unreasonable unless they fail within one of the five (5) established exceptions to the search warrant requirement.  The five established exceptions to the warrant requirement are: (1) consent, (2) incident to a lawful arrest, (3) with probable cause to search but with exigent circumstances, (4) in hot pursuit, and (5) stop and frisk. By MORRIS’ own admissions, none of the five established exceptions apply to this case. Of important significance, MORRIS specifically indicated that he did not follow **** into his motel room in “fresh pursuit” and instead detained **** outside his motel room; moreover, MORRIS entered **** ’s motel room after his safety concerns were quelled. 
Although the State will be unable to point to any of the five established exceptions to the warrant requirement to support law enforcement’s warrantless entry into **** ’s motel room without a warrant, the defense predicts the State will argue “probable cause to search but with exigent circumstances” and/or “incident to a lawful arrest” as the valid exceptions in this case. Accordingly, the defense will focus on these exceptions for purposes of the Motion.
PROBABLE CAUSE TO SEARCH BUT WITH EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES
In Lee v. State, the First District Court of Florida discussed the issues relating to an “exigent circumstance” to justify entry into a defendant’s motel room.  In Lee, a confidential informant alerted the police to a drug transaction which was to take place within at a local motel room (room 305).  The police planned to arrest the suspects outside the motel upon conclusion of the drug transaction.  Due to unforeseen circumstances (the transaction took place in a different room within the motel, room 309), the police decided to enter room 309 without a warrant to arrest the suspects.  Upon entry, the police located cocaine in plain view.  The police arrested all the occupants located within the room, including the defendant. 
The trial court found that there was probable cause to enter the room as exigent circumstances justified entering without a warrant.  The trial court reasoned that “issues relating to officer safety, control over the suspects, control over the rooms in questions, destruction of controlled substances, and loss of control over police buy money” equated to exigent circumstances.  The First District Court of Appeals disagreed and held that these circumstances did not amount to exigencies either alone or taken together.  Rather, the reasonableness of an entry by police onto private property without a warrant depends on the totality of the circumstances.  Importantly, some set of facts must exist that preclude taking the time to secure a warrant.  Neither a lack of knowledge or sheer speculation or guesswork about the situation at hands translates to exigent circumstances.  For the Court to find exigent circumstances that evidence would be destroyed unless the police entered the motel room without a warrant, the police must point to an objectively reasonable fear and not mere speculation. In the same line, for the Court to find exigent circumstances that the police were concerned for officer safety, the police must point to a legitimate fear of officer safety based on a specific risk involving the facts of the case and not simply a generalization involving the dangers inherent in drug cases. 
The Court listed the following factors indicating exigent circumstances to permit a warrantless entry including:
(1) The gravity or violent nature of the offense with which the subject is to be charged;
(2) A reasonable belief that the suspect is armed;
(3) Probable cause to believe that the suspect committed the crime;
(4) Strong reason to believe that the suspect is in the premises being entered; and (5) A likelihood that delay could cause the escape of the suspect or the destruction of essential evidence, or jeopardize the safety of officers of the public. 
Following the factors discussed in Lee, this Honorable Court should conclude that law enforcement did not have exigent circumstances to enter **** ’s motel room.
MORRIS allegedly observed **** discard baggies of drugs and drug paraphernalia on the bed of his motel room. Without more, possession of drugs cannot be considered a violent offense. Moreover, MORRIS did not observe or suspect that **** was carrying a weapon. **** (the only suspect to the crime) exited his motel room with thirty (30) seconds of MORRIS’s command to exit. MORRIS immediately detained **** in handcuffs without incident. From the threshold, MORRIS could see that there were not any other individuals in the small, efficiency-style motel room. MORRIS did not need to “sweep the motel room” to dispel any reasonable suspicion of danger.  As such, MORRIS could not have an objectively reasonable fear that evidence would be destroyed before law enforcement could obtain a warrant as the room was empty and **** was in handcuffs. For the same reasons, MORRIS will not be able to point to a legitimate fear of officer safety based on a specific risk. Any suspected fear of officer safety would simply be a generalization involving the dangers inherent in drug cases. Additionally, a warrantless search of a motel room cannot be justified by exigent circumstances created by the police. 
INCIDENT TO A LAWFUL ARREST
Legal occupants of a motel room are entitled to the strictest Fourth Amendment protections from illegal entry, searches and seizures. At no point, did MORRIS have the legal authority to enter **** ’s motel room as MORRIS arrested **** outside his motel room.
In Vasquez v. State, the Second District Court of Florida held that in the absence of exigent circumstances, the police may not enter a home without a search warrant simply because they believe they have probable cause to believe evidence of a crime may be found therein.  Moreover, if a search of a house is to be upheld as incident to arrest, that arrest must take place inside the house. 
In Vasquez, police received information that two (2) Hispanic men, wearing specific clothing, committed a robbery of a Subway restaurant.  Officers initiated a consensual encounter with a Hispanic man (Mr. Vasquez) staying in a motel near the Subway restaurant.  Upon request, Mr. Vasquez brought law enforcement back to his motel room.  As law enforcement approached the motel room, the door suddenly opened; another Hispanic male stepped outside leaving the door open behind him.  Law enforcement observed in plain view a full syringe, drug paraphernalia, and a single bullet within the motel room.  As a result, law enforcement secured both individuals outside the motel room. One of the officers entered the motel room to perform a “protective sweep.”  During the “protective sweep”, the officer observed clothing and additional evidence related to the robbery.  Both men were eventually charged with armed robbery.
The trial court upheld the search as a legally conducted “protective sweep”; however, the Second District Court of Appeals disagreed and held that the search was impermissible.
The Second District Court of Appeals held that “in the absence of exigent circumstances of permission, the police clearly may not enter a home without search warrant simply because they think they have probable cause to believe evidence of a crime may be found therein.”  The officer’s views of drugs, drug paraphernalia, or a bullet in the motel room did not permit the officer to enter without a warrant.  Similarly, although these items may have provided probable cause to arrest either occupant for possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia as they stood outside the residence, the officers could not constitutionally enter the residence unless the exigencies of the situation made it imperative that they do so prior to seeking a warrant.  If a search of house is to be upheld as incident to an arrest, that arrest must take place inside the house. 
The Second District Court also placed weight in the fact that the “protective sweep” was improper because the officers had no lawful basis for entering the motel in the first place.  Specifically that Mr. Vasquez was detained outside the residence, not within its confines and there was no warrant permitting entry. 
Following the Court’s ruling in Vasquez, this Honorable Court should conclude that law enforcement could not search **** motel room search incident to arrest.
MORRIS observed baggies of drugs and drug paraphernalia within **** ’s motel room. Similar to Vasquez, law enforcement in our case arrested **** outside his motel room. MORRIS’ observation of drugs and drug paraphernalia within **** ’s motel room does not permit MORRIS to enter without a warrant unless the exigencies of the situation made it imperative that they do so prior to seeking a warrant. As discussed previously, there were no exigencies precluding law enforcement from seeking a warrant. If a search of **** ’s motel room is to be upheld as search incident to an arrest, MORRIS would have had to arrest **** inside his motel room. As this was not the case, the search was unlawful.
The defense predicts that the State will argue that since the baggies of drugs and drug paraphernalia were in “plain view” that MORRIS had the legal authority to enter **** ’s motel room to seize the drugs and drug paraphernalia without a warrant. Although “plain view” is not an exception to the search warrant requirement, this argument would still fail because the police may seize an item in “plain view” only if the officer is in a place where he had a legitimate right to be.  Law enforcement did not have a legitimate right to be in **** ’s room because **** was arrested outside his motel room and none of the other exceptions to the search warrant requirement apply. 
WHEREFORE, the defendant respectfully requests this Honorable Court to grant the undersigned counsel’s motion to suppress all evidence seized from the defendant’s person and motel room and all statements elicited as a result of the illegal detention of the defendant.
Philip M. Snyder, Esq.
Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A.
312 S.E. 17th Street, 3rd Floor
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report attached and incorporated hereto.
 Morris deposition, page 7, lines 2-7; page 8, lines 19-25; page 9, lines 10-25; page 10, lines 1-7; page 11, lines 10-25.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report; Morris deposition, page 13, lines 14-21.
 Id. at page 17, lines 20-25; page 18, lines 1-3.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report; Morris deposition page 18, line 12-15. MORRIS may have assisted in stopping the door by placing in foot in the threshold. Id. at page 21, lines 9-11.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report; Morris deposition page 18, lines 25; page 19, line 1-2.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report; Morris deposition, page 18, lines 12-15; page 19, lines 3-23; page 33, lines 5-15.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report; Morris deposition, page 26, lines 1-11.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report.
 Morris deposition, page 29, lines 7-19; page 32, lines 5-13.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report; Morris deposition, page 30, lines 7-16.
 Fort Lauderdale Police Supplemental Report.
 Morris deposition, page 34, lines 20-25.
 Id. at page 35, lines 1-11.
 Lee. v. State, 856 So.2d 1133, 1136 (Fla. 1st D.C.A., 2003).
 Id.; Gilbert v. State, 789 So.2d 426, 428 (Fla. 4th D.C.A., 2001)
 Lee at 1136; quoting United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 561 (1976).
 Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967).
 Morris deposition, page 32, lines 5-15.
 Lee. v. State, 856 So.2d 1133 (Fla. 1st D.C.A., 2003).
 Id. at 1135.
 Id. at 1136.
 Id.; See Levine v. State, 684 So.2d 903, 904 (Fla. 4th D.C.A., 1996).
 Lee at 1139.
 See Id. at 1138-1139.
 Id. at 1137.
 Diaz v. State, 34 So, 3d 797, 802 (Fla. 4th D.C.A., 2010)
 Levine v. State. 684 So.2d 903,904 (Fla. 4th D.C.A., 1996) (Exigent circumstances did not justify warrantless search of defendant’s motel room, despite the fact that defendant slammed door when officer identified himself as informant was attempting to buy cocaine; any exigent circumstances were created by activity of the police officer since there was sufficient time to secure a warrant.)
 Vasquez v. State, 870 So.2d 26 (Fla. 2nd D.C.A., 2003).
 Id. at 28.
 Id. at 29. (The constitutional rights and privileges afforded to occupants of private permanent dwellings also apply to motel guests, legally occupying the premises.)
 Id., Vale v, Louisiana, 399 U.S. 33,34 (1969).
 Vasquez at 31.
 Id.; See also Beauchamp v. State, 742 So. 2d 431, 432 (Fla. 2nd D.C.A. 1999)(reversing denial of motion to suppress based on entry into dormitory room after officer smelled marijuana and obtained occupant’s admission that he possessed marijuana; noting, “The officers might have been authorized to conduct a safety sweep of the suite had they been lawfully permitted to enter it, but they were not allowed to enter the suit without a warrant for that purpose.”)
 State v. Futch, 715 So.2d 992, 993 (Fla. 2nd D.C.A., 1998).