Many criminal cases, including those here in Florida, begin not with a police search executed pursuant to a valid search warrant, but with a traffic stop. In a significant percentage of those cases, that initial stop was unlawful, which means that all the evidence obtained as a result of that stop should be suppressed at trial. Getting that gun, those drugs, or other evidence excluded from your criminal case requires a skillfully crafted and coherently advanced motion to suppress, and that represents just one of the multitude of places where a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer can make the difference between conviction and acquittal.
Traffic stops have, of course, been in the news lately, including to our north. D.W., a Minnesota man, was pulled over by police and, eventually, was fatally shot by one of those officers. Police said that they pulled D.W. over for an expired license plate but, shortly before his death, D.W. told his mother that he believed the police had pulled him over for the air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.
In Minnesota, things like air fresheners and fuzzy dice hanging from your rearview mirror are a valid basis for pulling you over. But here in Florida, the air freshener you have hanging from your rearview mirror cannot be the grounds for a valid traffic stop and, if the police do that, then any evidence they find is something you potentially can get suppressed. We know this because of a 2005 case decided by the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland.