Motion to Suppress for Prolonged Detention
In many cases, DUI defense attorneys can file a motion to suppress evidence because their client experienced prolonged detention. The court suppresses any evidence from the beginning of such holds and may dismiss the charges for insufficient evidence if they grant the motion.
Usually, law enforcement observes drivers breaking a traffic law before initiating a stop in a DUI case. Officers may then claim to find evidence that the driver was under the influence or impaired, prompting a DUI investigation. Florida police have a limited amount of time to establish probable cause in this scenario to make an arrest. If the DUI investigation gets unnecessarily delayed for an extended period during this phase of the stop, a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney may request suppression of any evidence found during that time.
What is a Detention?
When an officer observes circumstances that create a reasonable suspicion that a crime has or will occur, an investigatory stop or detainment to confirm or deny probable cause for arrest takes place. Known as the “Stop and Frisk Law,” there are five circumstances under which law enforcement must operate when temporarily detaining an individual under suspicion of a crime.
- May temporarily hold someone to determine their identity and clarify the circumstances that led to the officer’s suspicions of a crime
- Law enforcement cannot detain someone longer than necessary to accomplish identification and investigate the leading circumstances
- Cannot temporarily detain someone outside the vicinity of where the hold was initiated
- If events leading to the initial detention do not support probable cause for arrest, the officer should release the detained individual
- If the individual is armed, the officer has the right to search and possibly seize the weapon if a potential threat exists to the safety of others or that a crime did occur
- No evidence gathered by law enforcement during detention is admissible if noncompliance with this statute occurred
Florida Statute 901.151(3) makes it clear that it’s unacceptable to detain an individual for longer than is reasonably necessary to determine probable cause.
Reasonable Versus Prolonged Detention
Determining the appropriateness of a detainment’s length has more to do with the circumstances than just its length. The court will decide on the reasonableness of a hold by how diligent the officer pursued an investigation to confirm or deny suspicions of a crime, and whether it was truly necessary to detain the suspect for that time.
Judges tasked with making these types of assessments will also look at alternative ways law enforcement could have conducted an investigation, and if they overlooked or purposely failed to pursue it. The key is if the delay was unnecessary and/or the officers were slow to act.
Florida doesn’t have a clear line on how long police can detain DUI suspects at the stop. Each case involves varying circumstances that could determine the length of the detention. Factors that affect how long a suspect may have to wait for an officer to conduct a DUI investigation include:
- Amount of evidence needing to be processed
- Reason for the delay
- Related emergencies
Detentions that are unreasonably long are unlawful, and evidence gathered during that period is inadmissible. Defense attorneys typically argue that it was unreasonable because there wasn’t enough evidence of impairment to begin with, the officer made an error in the observation process, or other factors that unnecessarily contributed to the delay. When filing a motion to suppress for prolonged detention, the court will pay special attention to the particular time when the stopping officer had enough evidence to support the DUI charge.
Orlando DUI Attorneys to Fight Prolonged Detention
If you or a loved one experienced a prolonged detainment, it’s crucial to consult with a seasoned DUI defense lawyer right away to evaluate your situation. Your lawyer may decide to file a motion to suppress evidence obtained during that time of your stop. Very often, these detentions are unlawful when taking into consideration the circumstances surrounding your case. While the length of your hold isn’t enough on its own to get a favorable ruling on your motion, you can work with your attorney to prove that law enforcement was unreasonable in their investigation.
The Umansky Law Firm represents hundreds of DUI traffic cases a year where our clients experienced extended delays that were unlawful. As former prosecutors, we have an advantage in these cases as we know how the state will pursue your case. Our membership with the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and more than 100 years of combined experience showcases our dedication to our great state and its residents. We make your well-being and best interests our top priority so you can move forward in life from this challenging time with the best possible outcome for your situation.
Contact our office today at (407) 228-3838 to receive a free case evaluation and learn how we can help you build a successful defense.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]