July 18, 2011

Police Exceeded Scope of Consensual Search of Juvenile Defendant

A.L.T. v. State of Florida, 4D10 – 2278
June 8, 2011

The Fourth District wrote to address whether a police search exceeded the scope of the suspect’s consent.  A.L.T., a child, was stopped by Officer Mandell of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.  He asked A.L.T. specifically if he could “search him for weapons or drugs.” A.L.T. consented. Officer Mandell removed a wallet from A.L.T’s pocket which did not belong to A.L.T.  A records check of the address on driver’s license in the wallet revealed that a burglary occurred six days prior at that address.

A.L.T. was arrested. He waived his Miranda rights and confessed to the burglary.  The State charged A.L.T. with burglary and grand theft. The defense filed a motion to suppress and argued that the discovery of the victim’s driver’s license and A.L.T’s confession exceeded the scope of A.L.T.’s consent.  The Fourth District agreed.  “The standard for measuring the scope of a consent under the fourth amendment is objective reasonableness.  There is no bright-line test for determining the scope of consent to a warrantless search.”  Allen v. State, 909 So.2d 435, 438 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005).  The Fourth District held that a typical reasonable person would have understood Officer Mandell’s request to mean “a search for weapons and drugs, not an open invitation to remove all the contents from one’s wallet.”  The Fourth District reversed the denial of A.L.T.’s motion to suppress.