Nobody likes to be bossed around, but, we all have to put up with bossy people from time to time. When it comes to bossy cops, it is often easier to comply with their bogus commands than to inform them their behavior is illegal. Law enforcement represent that small group of people on Earth that can actually put you in a cage for failing to obey their commands. Today’s case study involves how an officer’s illegal command led to the dismissal of a possession of cocaine case.
In the case of Collins v. State, 115 So.3d 1040 (4th DCA 2013), Collins was hanging outside at an apartment complex littered with “No Trespassing” signs. An anonymous call to the police claimed that juveniles were loitering at the complex, and possibly using drugs. When police arrived, Collins was standing around outside, as many folks do here in sunny Florida. After all, Vitamin D from the sun is good thing, right? Wrong. Standing outside is borderline criminal in some areas, apparently, and this officer thought he had himself a trespassing arrest, but Collins explained to the officer that he was there to visit a friend. The officer then proceeded to knock on the apartment door of Collins’ friend, yet nobody answered (who, after all, answers the door to strangers anyway, much less for the police?).
Now, what happened before the officer left Collins to knock on the door–that’s what’s important here. The officer told Collins to “stand by” while he verified his “guest status”. The officer further explained, at the Motion to Suppress hearing, that Collins was not free to leave until he returned. Hum.