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Attenuation Doctrine

Posted on September 12, 2013 at 9:06 PM
In Florida Supreme Court case State v. Frierson, police pulled over a driver for a supposed traffic violation (failure to use a blinker). It turned out that no actual violation had occurred and that the officer simply didn’t know the law on that issue (as long as the failure to use the signal doesn’t create a danger to other drivers the statute has not been violated). Non-the less the officer proceeded to run the driver’s name and the system reported an outstanding warrant on him (the warrant too turned out to be bogus as it was issued for the arrest of another individual). Non-the less the officer arrested the man based on the warrant and carried out a search incident to the arrest. The search turned up a gun in the car, which led to the driver being charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
After entering a plea at the trial court level and reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress the gun based on an illegal search, the driver ended up in the Florida Supreme Court. The court had to decide whether the gun found was the fruit of the poisonous tree and had to be suppressed or was admissible against the defendant.
The Florida Supreme Court applied the attenuation doctrine as announced in the US Supreme Court Case, Wong Sun.  As applied to the facts in Frierson, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Wong Sun allows for an officer to (1) Stop a vehicle where there was no actual reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop- (2) Run the driver’s name for a possible warrant and if there is one (even a  bogus one really put out on someone else) the cop may arrest the driver based upon the warrant and carry out a search incident to that arrest and all evidence found there from is admissible; as the bogus warrant dissipates the original taint of the bogus stop.

My head is hurting.

Categories: Legal Advice

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