In a very recent Florida appellate case, a line was drawn between when a citizen suspected of possession of controlled substance is merely cooperating with law enforcement or if he or she becomes a agent of law enforcement that could result in the suppression of evidence the “agent” of law enforcement obtains from another individual. (This case involves juveniles so initials are used rather than names in accordance with Florida law).
In State v. C.D.M., 35 Fla. Law Weekly D2581, Case No. 2D09-4236, November 24, 2010, an officer had stopped two juveniles in a vehicle for a traffic violation. The officer smelled marijuana and asked the driver, C.C. to step out of the car. The officer told the juvenile driver, C.C., that he could smell the marijuana and things might go better for him if he cooperated and gave the officer any marijuana that might be in the car. C.C. decided to cooperate and went back to the car and asked his juvenile companion, C.D. M. to give him the marijuana, which C.D.M. did. C.C. testified at the motion to suppress hearing that he felt he had no choice but to comply with the officer’s request. (If CC was an agent of law enforcement C.D.M.’s consent to provide the marijuana to C.C. would have been found to be a coercive, involuntary consent).
The trial court suppressed the marijuana evidence against C.D.M. holding that C.C. had acted as an “agent” of the police when C.C. went back to the car and obtained the marijuana from C.D.M. and thus C.D.M.’s consent was involuntary.