The Second DCA held that cocaine obtained from an illegal stop by police officers acting outside their authority cannot be used against the defendant in trial. In the case of T.T.N. v. State, police officers in St. Petersburg attempted to stop a vehicle during a routine traffic stop. The driver fled on foot and was eventually apprehended, while the passengers drove the vehicle away. After arresting the driver, police left the city limits in order to find the passengers. Upon finding them, a police officer stopped a juvenile with the initials T.T.N. and asked him to show his hands. He then dropped the cocaine he was holding in his hand. The court ruled that the police officers had no authority to continue the investigation outside the city limits once the driver was arrested. They further concluded that T.T.N. could not have been stopped by the police officer unless police had reason to believe T.T.N. had just committed a crime, was in the process of committing a crime, or was about to commit a crime. Therefore, the cocaine that fell from T.T.N.'s possession could not be used against him at trial.
In their July 2010 decision, the court held three very important things: (1) police officers who stopped a vehicle pursuant to a routine traffic stop could not leave their city limits to find the passengers who fled with the vehicle once the driver had been arrested; (2) during an investigation, police officers can only stop someone if they have reasonable suspicion to believe he has committed, is in the process of committing, or is about to commit a crime; and (3) cocaine that is voluntarily abandoned by a defendant and then obtained during an illegal stop by police officers that lacked authority within those city limits cannot be used against the defendant in trial.
Police officers routinely violate search and seizure rules in violation of a person's constitutional rights of privacy. At The Arnold Law Firm, we handle cocaine possession cases in Florida and Georgia State and Federal courts. If you need help with an arrest as a result of a police search, call our criminal defense lawyers at (904) 731-3800.