Florida Supreme Court Rules Inevitable Discovery Doctrine Applies Only When Police In Process Of Obtaining Warrant During Illegal Search
The Fourth Amendment requires that police obtain a warrant before searching a place if probable cause does not yet exist. There are exceptions to this rule, such as consent, exigency, plain view, and search incident to arrest, to name a few. If the police illegally search, evidence uncovered during the search may be ruled inadmissible by the criminal court and not used against the defendant ("the exclusionary rule").
However, there are exceptions to this rule, too. One such exception is the "inevitable discovery doctrine," which allows for the admission of illegally seized evidence if it would have inevitably been discovered in the course of a legitimate investigation. The rule requires (1) a "reasonable probability" that the evidence would have been discovered despite the improper police procedure, and (2) the investigation must be ongoing and the prosecution must show that the facts known by the police at the moment of the unconstitutional procedure would have led to the evidence notwithstanding the police misconduct.
In Rodriguez v. State, 40 Fla. L. Weekly S691 (Fla. Dec. 10, 2015), the Florida Supreme Court held that in order to apply the Inevitable Discovery Doctrine, the prosecution must show that the police were actually in pursuit of the warrant at the time the evidence was illegally discovered.
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