County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL LAW – Search and Seizure --- Evidence ---

Motion to suppress was properly denied because defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy where he was a hold-over motel patron and motel management had contacted police for assistance. Judgment and sentence affirmed. Brewster v. State, No. CRC 06-87 APANO, (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. March 3, 2008).

 

 

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING

AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

 

 

SEAN M. BREWSTER

 

            Appellant,

                                                                              Appeal No. CRC 06-87 APANO

                                                                              UCN522006AP000087XXXXCR

v.

 

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

            Appellee.

__________________________/

 

Opinion filed _________________.

 

Appeal from a judgment and sentence

entered by the Pinellas County Court

County Judge Edwin B. Jagger

 

Joseph Hobson, Esquire

Attorney for appellant

 

Gregory Thacker, Esquire

Assistant State Attorney

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

            (J. Newton)

 

            THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendant, Sean Brewster’s, appeal from a judgment and sentence entered by the Pinellas County Court. Brewster entered a no contest plea to possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges, reserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the trial court’s decision to deny the motion to suppress.       

            On July 28, 2006, Brewster and a friend checked into a motel. The friend paid for two nights. The manager of the motel told the two both orally and in writing that check - out time was 11:00 A.M. When Brewster and his friend had not checked out by 11:00 A.M. on July 30, the manager and other motel employees attempted to contact Brewster and his friend by telephoning the room, knocking and yelling through the door, and trying to enter the room --- but it was dead-bolted from the inside. Unsuccessful in attempting to contact the two, the motel manager called the sheriff’s office. Shortly after being called, the deputies arrived at the motel and were given permission to enter by the motel manager. They entered the room at approximately 12:21 A.M. and observed marijuana and drug paraphernalia in plain view. Brewster and his friend were arrested. He filed a motion to suppress, but the trial court denied it.

            In this appeal, Brewster claims the police had no right to enter his motel room, and any evidence discovered should have been suppressed. This Court, however, agrees with the trial court. Brewster did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy because he was not in lawful possession of the room at the time the police entered.

            The appellant cites numerous cases for the proposition that for Fourth

Amendment purposes a motel room is considered a private dwelling. See e.g., Wassmer v. State, 565 So.2d 856 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990); Gnann v. State, 662 So.2d 406 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995). The appellant, however, fails to analyze the requirements. All the cases recite that a room is considered a private dwelling if the occupant is legally there, has paid for the room, and has not been asked to leave.

            In the case at bar, Brewster arguably did not meet any of the three requirements.  He certainly did not meet all three. As noted in Green v. State, 824 So.2d 311 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002), the motel room’s protected status does not outlast the guest’s right to occupy the room. The evidence is clear that Brewster had outlasted his legal right to occupy the motel room. His friend had paid only through 11:00 A.M. of July 30. Brewster had been informed both orally and in writing when he was required to leave, and hotel employees had attempted to contact him to tell him to leave. But he was still on the premises when the police arrived. At that time his expectation of privacy had, along with his legal right to be in the room, expired. Accordingly, the deputies’ entry into the room did not violate Brewster’s legal rights, and suppression of the evidence found in the motel room was not required.

            IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this Court affirms both the judgment and the sentence.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of February, 2008.

 

                                                            _____________________________

                                                                        Joseph A. Bulone

                                                                        Circuit Judge

 

 

 

                                                            _____________________________

                                                                        David A. Demers

                                                                        Circuit Judge

 

 

 

                                                            ______________________________

                                                                        Cynthia J. Newton

                                                                        Circuit Judge

 

cc:        Office of the State Attorney

            Honorable Edwin B. Jagger

            Joseph Hobson, Esquire