Here’s Your Sign! June 17, 2015 | Criminal
Those immortal words of comedian Bill Engvall could not hold truer than with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s this week. Does anyone remember our Fourth Amendment?
In an effort to thwart car burglaries, Deputy Sheriffs are patrolling Pinellas County looking for unlocked vehicles. When they discover a car with an unlocked door, they open it, lock it and leave behind a flyer letting the owner know to lock their vehicle. How courteous of them – NOT! This is an extremely slippery slope…one that should not be allowed.
Let’s imagine that Mr. Sheriff is just doing his job and walking around the city looking for unlocked doors. He finds one and opens it up. While he is dropping the flyer on the seat he notices a bag of marijuana on the floor of the vehicle. Hmmmm…..what happens next? The “plain view doctrine” used in criminal cases allows an officer to seize something without a warrant as long as it did not require a search, or essentially, the object was in plain view. I think the court would probably kick it out because the officer was not there investigating another crime when he found it, but why go through all the trouble?? Seeing the drugs, could the officer make a case to a judge for a warrant? The possibilities are endless.
While some people may not be bothered by such an intrusion, giving the officers an opportunity to step over the line is a violation of our Fourth Amendment.
The Sheriff’s office claims the idea behind this is to mainly avoid guns being stolen from vehicles and subsequently used in crimes. While it is irresponsible for a citizen lawfully carrying a gun in their vehicle to leave doors unlocked, it still does not make it ok to violate our privacy.
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