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Consent is exception to search warrant requirement in Tampa

As readers in Tampa probably know, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of people's bodies, homes and property. This clause is important because it takes away law enforcement's ability to conduct random searches of homes on the hunt for incriminating evidence. Instead, police officers generally must obtain a search warrant from the court before they can search a residence. With the government having the power to arrest and imprison us, the search warrant requirement is one of several Constitutional and other legal requirements that help maintain a check on that power.

However, the requirement that police have a search warrant before entering a private home is not unlimited. There are several exceptions, one of which is that police may search a home without a warrant if a person at the home gives consent. That is what police say led to the arrest of a 77-year-old Florida Keys man on drug charges on Dec. 29.

The man called sheriff's deputies to say that his neighbors were harassing him by taking pictures of cars parked in front of his house. The neighbors had previously claimed to the sheriff's department that the man was dealing drugs in his house. A deputy went to the home. He claims that the man and his son, who also lives at the house, consented to a search of the house at the deputy's request.

The deputy said he found 110 grams of marijuana and a scale. He also searched the older man and seized cash from his pocket that he says must have come from selling marijuana. The 77-year-old was arrested on multiple drug charges.

One possible question a defense attorney could raise in this case is whether the suspect's consent to the warrantless search was genuine. We will provide any updates to this case as they occur.

Source: WTVJ-TV, "Drug Charges for Elderly Marathon Man Who Called Police to Complain About Nosy Neighbors," Brian Hamacher, Dec. 31, 2012

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