Murphy v. State, No. 5D04-1095.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtSHARP, W., J.
Citation898 So.2d 1031
PartiesCharles MURPHY, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date11 March 2005
Docket NumberNo. 5D04-1095.

898 So.2d 1031

Charles MURPHY, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee

No. 5D04-1095.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.

March 11, 2005.

Rehearing Denied April 19, 2005.


James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Scott Ragan, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.

Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Robin A. Compton, Assistant

898 So.2d 1032
Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee

SHARP, W., J.

Murphy appeals from a final judgment of conviction and sentence for possession of cocaine.1 He filed a motion to suppress evidence of cocaine seized by a police officer who entered his motel room without a warrant.2 The trial court denied his motion. It also found the motion was "dispositive."3 Murphy entered a no contest plea and reserved his right to appeal. We have jurisdiction and we affirm.

The record in this case is sparse. At the hearing on the motion to suppress, the state called only one witness, Officer Morford, and the defense called none. Morford testified that he was a patrol officer with the Daytona Beach Police Department and had five years of experience in narcotics investigations and arrests. He and his partner, Officer Youngman, were called by their supervisor to do a "knock and talk" at room 109 of a motel located on the north side of Atlantic Avenue.4 The Police Department had received complaints that contraband was being sold out of that room. The owner of the motel told Officer Youngman that Murphy had been residing in room 109 for a couple of weeks.

The two officers approached Murphy's room from a patio area where chairs were placed along the walkway. The defense agrees that the two officers were standing in a public area when they knocked on the door.5

Murphy answered the knock and opened the door. Officer Morford testified that within seconds of the door opening he saw, and instantly recognized as cocaine, a white powder substance in two baggies, on a table five or six feet inside the room.

Murphy stepped out of the room. Officer Youngman immediately arrested him and had him sit in a chair in the patio, outside the room. Officer Morford entered the motel room, seized the baggies, and tested them for cocaine. The field test proved positive.

After Officer Morford was in the motel room and after he seized the cocaine, he noticed that there was another person in the room — a young female.

On cross-examination, the defense asked him if he had any specific facts to indicate that his safety was in jeopardy in any way, prior to entering the motel room. He responded he did not believe he was in any danger. The defense asked if there were any specific facts to indicate, prior to entering the room, that the evidence (cocaine) could or would be destroyed. Officer Morford first responded that "there's also a potential" but he admitted he had no

898 So.2d 1033
specific facts he was aware of that the evidence would be destroyed

Based on these facts, the trial judge ruled that the police officer had the right to seize the contraband because it was in plain view and because there were exigent circumstances that excused the Fourth Amendment mandate to obtain a warrant prior to entering a private residence to seize evidence of a crime.

A ruling on a motion to suppress comes to the appellate court as presumptively correct as to disputed facts and all reasonable inferences and deductions drawn from them. See Pagan v. State, 830 So.2d 792 (Fla.2002); Morris v. State, 749 So.2d 590 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000). However, the trial court's application of the law to the facts is reviewed under the de novo standard. Phuagnong v. State, 714 So.2d 527 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998).

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article 1, section 12 of the Florida Constitution guarantee the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, in a constitutionally protected place; i.e., here a rented motel room, which is legally the equivalent of a lawful tenant's residence.6 Absent exigent circumstances, warrantless searches and seizures from a constitutionally protected place are per se unreasonable and the state has the burden to establish any exception to the requirement of obtaining a warrant prior to a search or seizure in a protected place. See Davis v. State, 834 So.2d 322 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003); LaFave, 3 Search and Seizure, § 6.1(b) at 375 (4th ed. 2004).

The state and the defense agree that an item may be seized from a constitutionally protected place without a warrant if: 1) the police view the contraband from a place they have a legitimate right to be; 2) the incriminating character of the contraband is immediately apparent to the viewing police officer; and 3) the police officer has a lawful right of access to the contraband. See Horton v. California, 496 U.S. 128, 110 S.Ct. 2301, 110 L.Ed.2d 112 (1990); Rimmer v. State, 825 So.2d 304, 313 (Fla.2002). If one of these requirements is not met, then the state must establish an exception to the warrant requirement, such as consent or exigent circumstances.7

The trial court justified the warrantless seizure partially on the ground that the contraband was in plain view from the patio area where Officer Morford was standing when he first saw it. However, the Florida Supreme Court in Ensor v. State, 403 So.2d 349 (Fla.1981) distinguished the plain-view situation, which permits a warrantless seizure, from an open-view situation, which may not.8 In the plain-view situation, the officer has a constitutional right to be in the place where the seizure is made.9 In an open-view

898 So.2d 1034
situation, the officer sees the contraband from a place he or she has a right to be, outside a constitutionally protected area, but may not have constitutional access to the place the contraband is located when seized. In such cases, there must be a Fourth Amendment exception, such as exigent circumstances, to justify the warrantless entry and seizure. See Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 29 L.Ed.2d 564 (1971); Ensor.

Murphy argues that there is no basis in this record to conclude, as the trial judge did, that there were any exigent circumstances that justified Officer Morford's dashing into Murphy's motel room and seizing the contraband without first obtaining a warrant. Murphy had been arrested and was seated outside the room. The officers had no reason to think there was anyone else in the room. They could have sealed off the room, held Murphy in custody, and obtained a warrant prior to the seizure.

The fact that there was another person in the room who could have...

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26 practice notes
  • State v. Ojeda, No. 3D08-1079
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 1, 2013
    ...2008); State v. Triana, 979 So. 2d 1039 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008); State v. Pereira, 967 So. 2d 312 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007); and Murphy v. State, 898 So. 2d 1031 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005)—are inapposite. Eight of the ten cases—Davis, Morsman, Nieminski, Luna-Martinez, Navarro, Hardin, Triana, and Murphy—are ......
  • State v. Ojeda, Nos. 3D08–1079
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • July 23, 2014
    ...(“A purely consensual encounter between a police officer and a citizen does not implicate the Fourth Amendment.”); Murphy v. State, 898 So.2d 1031, 1032 n. 4 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (recognizing that a “knock and talk” conducted at Murphy's motel room is a procedure used by law enforcement as a......
  • Evans v. Commonwealth, Record No. 141206.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • September 17, 2015
    ...Cir.1991) ; State v. Decker, 119 Ariz. 195, 580 P.2d 333, 336 (1978) ; Mendez v. People, 986 P.2d 275, 282 (Colo.1999) ; Murphy v. State, 898 So.2d 1031, 1034–36 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.2005) ; People v. Pierini, 278 Ill.App.3d 974, 215 Ill.Dec. 743, 664 N.E.2d 140, 144 (1996) ; Posey v. Commonwea......
  • State v. Dorsey, No. 12–1486.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 18, 2014
    ...knock on the door, try to make contact with persons inside, and talk to them about the subject of the complaints.” Murphy v. State, 898 So.2d 1031, 1032 n. 4 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.2005). 7. According to Trooper Harris, he went to Ms. Gillespie's home with three additional officers because the pe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • State v. Ojeda, No. 3D08-1079
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 1, 2013
    ...2008); State v. Triana, 979 So. 2d 1039 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008); State v. Pereira, 967 So. 2d 312 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007); and Murphy v. State, 898 So. 2d 1031 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005)—are inapposite. Eight of the ten cases—Davis, Morsman, Nieminski, Luna-Martinez, Navarro, Hardin, Triana, and Murphy—are ......
  • State v. Ojeda, Nos. 3D08–1079
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • July 23, 2014
    ...(“A purely consensual encounter between a police officer and a citizen does not implicate the Fourth Amendment.”); Murphy v. State, 898 So.2d 1031, 1032 n. 4 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (recognizing that a “knock and talk” conducted at Murphy's motel room is a procedure used by law enforcement as a......
  • Evans v. Commonwealth, Record No. 141206.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • September 17, 2015
    ...Cir.1991) ; State v. Decker, 119 Ariz. 195, 580 P.2d 333, 336 (1978) ; Mendez v. People, 986 P.2d 275, 282 (Colo.1999) ; Murphy v. State, 898 So.2d 1031, 1034–36 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.2005) ; People v. Pierini, 278 Ill.App.3d 974, 215 Ill.Dec. 743, 664 N.E.2d 140, 144 (1996) ; Posey v. Commonwea......
  • State v. Dorsey, No. 12–1486.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 18, 2014
    ...knock on the door, try to make contact with persons inside, and talk to them about the subject of the complaints.” Murphy v. State, 898 So.2d 1031, 1032 n. 4 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.2005). 7. According to Trooper Harris, he went to Ms. Gillespie's home with three additional officers because the pe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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