Sometimes, even a seemingly minor crime can (depending on your circumstances) create big problems for you. That’s especially true if you’re on probation, where even a misdemeanor conviction may trigger a revocation of probation. The revocation of your probation could mean spending years in jail that you otherwise would have avoided.
That’s why, when there’s a potential probation revocation on the line, don’t take risks. Instead, fight the charge aggressively and contact an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney about your case.
For an example of how all this can work, there’s the case of A.N., which began after police in Hillsborough County were called to a motel on the basis of a “domestic violence incident.” The police officers who responded spoke with the alleged victim, and then spoke to A.N. (the alleged perpetrator) through an open window. They told the man they intended to arrest him for domestic battery.
A.N., who was on probation, refused to leave the locked room. Not only that, he barricaded himself in using the room’s bed. The barricade worked. Even with the motel manager’s key, the officers couldn’t get through the door. Eventually, they removed a screen from the room’s window, grabbed the man and pulled him out the window opening. At that point, they handcuffed him and took him away.
The state sought to charge A.N. with resisting arrest without violence and revoke his probation. The state, though, had a major problem that A.N. pointed out at his hearing, which related to the way they went about seizing him.
You see, you can only be convicted of resisting arrest without violence if the police were undertaking “the lawful execution of a legal duty.” If the police’s action violates a person’s constitutional rights, then the police cannot have been said to have been engaging in the lawful execution of a legal duty.
In A.N.’s case, the key was his Fourth Amendment rights. If the arrest was legal, then there was no Fourth Amendment violation and the charge of resisting without violence could stand. If the warrantless arrest was a Fourth Amendment violation, then A.N. couldn’t have been guilty of the crime charged.
So, was the arrest legal?
No. In this situation, the arrest was a Fourth Amendment violation. If A.N. had been out on the street, the arrest would have been OK. The law views a hotel room, for purposes of the Fourth Amendment, in the same way it views a home, and the police cannot break down the door of your home and arrest you unless they have a warrant or unless an exception (such as “exigent circumstances”) existed. The officers who arrested A.N. clearly didn’t have a warrant, so the state needed proof of exigent circumstances.
What are exigent circumstances?
Exigent circumstances arise when the police “have an urgent need to address some sort of emergency.” This generally involves a suspect who is a threat to himself or others (or property,) who is a threat to flee or is in a position to destroy evidence. The prosecution had sufficient evidence of none of those things in A.N.’s case, according to the appeals court. The alleged victim was outside and was safe. There was no proof that A.N. was a danger to himself, to police or to any property. There was no proof that the man intended to escape, or even had the ability to do so. And there was no evidence for A.N. to destroy, so that left the prosecution 0-for-3, meaning A.N. was entitled to a reversal of his conviction.
Whenever you’re charged with a crime, it can have a major impact on your life. Whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor, protect your rights by contacting the experienced Tampa Bay probation violation attorneys at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. Our attorneys have been providing clients with high-quality and effective criminal defense representation for over 20 years. Call us today at (727) 286-6141 to schedule your FREE initial consultation.