Protestor Demonstration on Capitol Hill Shows Importance of Constitutional Privacy Laws In Florida

Protesters marched on Capitol Hill in Washington to protest the U.S. government’s online surveillance programs, whose vast scope was revealed this year by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden. People carried signs reading: “Stop Mass Spying,” “Thank you, Edward Snowden” and “Unplug Big Brother” as they gathered at the foot of the Capitol to demonstrate against the online surveillance by the National Security Agency. Estimates varied on the size of the march, with organizers saying more than 2,000 attended. U.S. Capitol Police said they do not typically provide estimates on the size of demonstrations.

In Florida, every person has the fundamental right to be let alone and free from government
intrusion into her private life under the Constitution. This right does not guarantee complete
freedom from intrusion, but the state must meet the strict scrutiny test, by furthering a compelling state interest and employing the least intrusive means to do so. For a particular facet of private life to be protected, the individual must have reasonable expectation of privacy for that facet. indexprivacy.jpg

In the same capacity, police must not invade one’s privacy without meeting certain constitutional requirements. According to Florida’s courts, reasonable suspicion is present when a reasonable police officer under similar circumstances would believe criminal activity had just occurred, was occurring at that moment, or was about to occur. In other words, whether that specific officer’s belief was reasonable is reviewed by the courts using an objective standard (what a reasonable officer would have believed under similar circumstances).

Many times, the true reason that a suspect is suspected in the first place is unfortunately because of racial discrimination, profiling, or other discriminatory practices that would drive a police officer to determine in his own mind that the person he is attempting to apprehend is in fact the perpetrator of a crime. In many cases, the arrested is really the victim; even when there are no specific facts to show that officers acted with racial prejudice, racial prejudice should not be ruled out.

Under the 4th amendment, if the police have exigent circumstances, or circumstances that would show that evidence of criminal activity could be removed or destroyed quickly, or the police are currently in “hot pursuit” of a suspect, the police may conduct a search without a warrant. However, one has a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion in one’s home. This means that police may not enter one’s home without a warrant if they do not have probable cause.

The biggest misconduct violation of all was the police entering into a dwelling with no probable cause or warrantless entry exception. Just because someone does not answer the door, does not mean that a police officer can just enter through the window of the home. The officers probably felt they were in the right because they were looking for an armed suspect. The courts should not allow “hot pursuit”, the only possible justification in this case to suspend the warrant requirement, to be used as a justification for what police misconduct and serious violations of the Constitution. If county sheriff’s offices allow their deputies to participate in this kind of conduct, then every time an armed suspect in any general location is being pursued, whether by hot, warm or cold case pursuit, the police will feel justified under the law in invading one’s privacy, an act that is not justifiable under the U.S. Constitution.

Many times, the officer will claim one is being detained; remember, the detention could very well be illegal. However, resisting arrest can only make the situation worse for one who is already dealing with an officer who is not following the law correctly. One needs an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who has the knowledge to properly fight the charge and ensure one’s rights are protected.


The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source:Protesters march in Washington against NSA spying, Reuters.com