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Common Issues in Criminal Defense

When you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, it can be a time of great stress and confusion. At Sonnenklar Law, we strive to provide clarity and support during this challenging time. Our goal is to help you understand the criminal justice process, so you can make informed decisions about your case. To get started, we offer a free case review. Contact us today for personalized legal guidance and support.

K9 Sniffs.

K-9 sniffs- The police are allowed to perform a k-9 sniff of a vehicle which has been pulled over for a traffic violation. However, the use of the k-9 must not delay the traffic ticket procedure.

1.    In Jones v. State, 187 So.3d 346, 346 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), an officer stopped the defendant for failure to wear a seatbelt. He obtained the defendant's driver's license and car registration but did not do anything with them. Id. at 347. Instead, he asked for permission to search the vehicle, and when the defendant refused, the officer retrieved his drug dog from his vehicle to perform a dog sniff of the defendant's vehicle. Id. The dog alerted, and the officer discovered oxycodone pills. Id. Only about three minutes passed from the beginning of the traffic stop until the dog alerted. Id.

2.    [T]he issue is not, as the trial court thought, what is an objectively reasonable time in which to complete the traffic stop, but whether the dog sniff in this particular stop “adds time to” the stop. Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1616. In Jones, our Court concluded that the officer had abandoned the purpose of the stop by deciding not to write a ticket but to start the dog sniff. Jones, 187 So.3d at 348. Underhill v. State, 197 So. 3d 90, 92 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016)

3.    [T}he United States Supreme Court observed in Illinois v. Caballes, 543U.S. 405, 125 S.Ct. 834, 160 L.Ed.2d 842 (2005), “[a] seizure that is justified solely by the interest in issuing a warning ticket to a driver can become unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete that [initial] mission.” Id. at 837 Poliar v. State, 898 So. 2d 1013, 1014 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005)

Tag Lights.

Florida Statute 316.221
“Either a taillamp or a separate lamp shall be so constructed and placed as to illuminate with a white light the rear registration plate and render it clearly legible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear. Any taillamp or taillamps, together with any separate lamp or lamps for illuminating the rear registration plate, shall be so wired as to be lighted whenever the headlamps or auxiliary driving lamps are lighted. Dump trucks and vehicles having dump bodies are exempt from the requirements of this subsection.”

It can be difficult to remember, but these lights do burn out, and occasionally need to be replaced.

License Plate Covers.

Florida Statute 316.605.

A License plate, must “be securely fastened to the vehicle outside the main body of the vehicle not higher than 60 inches and not lower than 12 inches from the ground and no more than 24 inches to the left or right of the centerline of the vehicle, and in such manner, as to prevent the plates from swinging, and all letters, numerals, printing, writing, the registration decal, and the alphanumeric designation shall be clear and distinct and free from defacement, mutilation, grease, and other obscuring matter so that they will be plainly visible and legible at all times 100 feet from the rear or front.” Many license plate covers that come with cars, for example from “Carvana” violate this rule and can be cause for a traffic stop.

Driver’s Licenses.

There are multiple tag readers along US One. If you drive into the Keys with an expired License, or tag, expect to be pulled over.

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