Can the Police Arrest You in Your Home Without a Warrant?
In Florida, the police usually need to obtain a warrant before arresting a person in their own home. In misdemeanor cases, the police also cannot use a “hot pursuit” to justify a warrantless home entry. That is to say, the police cannot follow you into your home and arrest you for a non-violent misdemeanor if they do not have a warrant.
Florida Appeals Court Voids “Resisting Arrest” Conviction
Indeed, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal recently threw out a conviction for resisting arrest due to the police’s warrantless entry into the defendant’s home. In this case, Tellam v. State, involved a misdemeanor trespassing charge. According to prosecutors, the defendant drove onto his neighbor’s property–in violation of a “NO TRESPASSING” sign–and damaged his mailbox. (Yes, ignoring a “no trespassing” sign is actually a misdemeanor offense in Florida, punishable by up to one year in jail if there was someone in the house at the time.)
The neighbor called the police. An officer spoke to the neighbor and determined there was probable cause to arrest the defendant on the misdemeanor charge. The officer then went to the defendant’s house. The defendant was standing outside. The officer instructed the defendant not to go inside. The defendant ignored the instruction and proceeded to enter his home. As the defendant crossed the threshold, the officer grabbed him, pulled him back outside, and handcuffed him.
Prosecutors charged the defendant with trespassing and resisting arrest. A jury convicted him on both counts. On appeal, the Fourth District affirmed the trespassing conviction without comment. But the court also reversed the resisting arrest conviction.
The appellate court explained that the officer violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. While the officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant for misdemeanor trespass, that in and of itself did not justify entering the defendant’s property without a search or arrest warrant. There are some cases where an emergency or “exigent circumstances” can justify a warrantless entry–such as to prevent the destruction of evidence–but none of those conditions applied here. As such, the arrest for “resisting arrest” was itself unlawful. The Fourth District said the trial court should have entered an acquittal on this count. It therefore remanded the case with instructions to enter such an acquittal.
Contact the Joshi Law Firm Today
It is important to note here that resisting arrest–with or without violence–is a criminal offense in Florida. You cannot restrict, obstruct, or oppose any law enforcement officer who is carrying out an otherwise legal arrest or warrant. So if you are facing a criminal arrest of any kind, your best bet is to be respectful, remain silent, and exercise your right to speak with a qualified Orlando burglary and trespassing lawyer as soon as possible.
Call the Joshi Law Firm, PA, at (407) 661-1009 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our staff.