In some cases the police are considered in “hot pursuit”. This happens when a suspect fails to follow an officer’s direction to pull over, and the police are forced to follow a driver until a stop can be made. Police pursuit can also take place on foot, such as in the instance of an officer running after a pedestrian thought to have been engaging in unlawful behavior. Most foot pursuits happen during a misdemeanor offense, and the suspect sometimes tries to outrun the officer and find safe haven. A place considered to be the safest of havens is one’s home. So, what happens when a police officer chases a suspect and the chase ends at a residence?

This question was answered by the Florida Supreme Court, when it said that an officer may not pursue an individual into their home or the property surrounding their home for misdemeanor cases. The facts of this case include:

  • An officer suspected the defendant of marijuana possession, while the defendant was on a public walkway.
  • The officer directed the defendant to “stay put”, but the suspect ran.
  • The officer followed, and an arrest was made at the defendant’s home.
  • The Court decided that a firearm, found in the garage, was obtained unlawfully and thus the defendant could not be charged with the crime of a felon in possession of a weapon.

The rationale behind the Court’s ruling was that these circumstances did not present a threat to public safety; the “circumstances” being the original allegation of possession of marijuana. The outcome may have been different had the facts included a threat to public safety, or had the defendant entered a building other than his home. The lesson to be learned here is that the facts of your case dictate which legal doctrines apply. We keep up to date with the latest court decisions, and make sure the proper legal rules are argued in your case. If you have questions about criminal defense, weapons charges, or want to know what to expect after an arrest, call our office.

If you have been arrested and have questions about the criminal law process, call our office to learn your options. Schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.