Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Florida v. Riley case brief

Florida v. Riley case brief summary
488 U.S. 445 (1989)

Plaintiff state appealed the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida, which quashed the court of appeals' decision and reinstated the trial court's suppression order of evidence obtained when the police flew over defendant's greenhouse in a helicopter.

The police flew over a greenhouse located on defendant's property in a helicopter at 400 feet, looked into the greenhouse and saw marijuana. The police then obtained a search warrant for the greenhouse and seized the marijuana. The trial court suppressed the marijuana, the court of appeals reversed, and the state supreme court quashed the court of appeal's decision and reinstated the suppression.

  • The Court reversed, finding that the property surveyed was within the curtilage of defendant's home and, therefore, subject to search without a warrant. 
  • Although defendant no doubt intended and expected that his greenhouse would not be open to public inspection and took precautions to protect against ground-level observation, because the sides and roof of his greenhouse were left partially open, what was growing in the greenhouse was subject to viewing from the air. 
  • Defendant could not reasonably have expected the contents of his greenhouse to be immune from examination by an officer seated in an aircraft flying in navigable airspace at an altitude of 500 feet where such private and commercial flight at that altitude was routine.

The Court reversed the judgment of the Florida Supreme Court.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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