Sunday, February 1, 2015

Consent to Search at Traffic Stop Leads to FL Keys Arrest for Marine Violations re Sea Turtles & Sharks ~ Invoke & Call Michael A. Haber @ **ARRESTED

I can't find booking photos for either 48 y/o David Hernandez Sordo or 59 y/o Pedro Suarez, but both were arrested at about 3:00 pm on Thursday, January 28th, 2015 in the Florida Keys for possession of a sea turtle (which is a violation of both federal and state law) and for exceeding their "bag limit" on captured and killed sharks.

As they were driving through Marathon with their 24' Mako, which was improperly secured to its trailer and in tow, David blew through a red light in his gold Ford pickup, prompting a traffic stop. Observation of a bloody fillet knife led to discussion about the pair's fishing adventure and, per the coppers, then to consent to search the vehicle (which, naturally, led to discovery of the illegal catches).

Sea Turtles, or Loggerheads, are gentle, graceful and serene, not to fail to mention federally protected animals.  

You are not permitted to touch them, much less to capture, kill or keep any part of them.  Thus, Hernandez and Suarez's claim that they did not capture or kill the sea turtle for it's tail; rather that they were fishing when the tail "floated past their vessel", that they took it from the water, put it in the cooler, had intended to use it later as bait and simply forgot to do so will not prove to be a valid lawful defense (or course a jury can choose to exercise its' right to "nullify" the law, but, all things equal, that defense in this case simply won't - get ready for it - "float".

Apart from the turtle tail cops also found more sharks in the dynamic duo's cooler than Florida State Law "bag limits" allow.  I know that some folks eat shark but I am not a fan.  I wholeheartedly believe in and support the "catch and release" model of shark fishing.  The simple - and scientific - facts are that shark's are an indispensable part of our ecosystem (without which the ocean's will become polluted and dangerous to all life on Earth., marine and otherwise) and that people kill sharks in outrageous numbers.

While I, an avid boater and subscriber to the "salt-life", wholeheartedly support marine fishery and boating safety enforcement, I am also a fan of the US Constitution and all of the rights and privileges that it confers to any US citizen or pretty much anyone on US soil.  It is a fact that on the water the cops do not need a reason to stop, board or search your vessel (the 4th Amendment is in a proverbial black hole while you are on the waterways - this holds true at border points as well incidentally), but on land its a whole different story.  

On land the 4th Amendment is alive and well and, absent either a search warrant or a lawful exception to the warrant requirement (such as "consent"), cops cannot search you or your property on land... including your boat, or the cooler on your boat, which is being towed on land by your vehicle.  So, Hernandez and  Suarez, having violated federal, state and nature's laws are scumbags in my book but, more importantly, they are also bad clients, having consented to a warrantless search and therefore arming the with power that they otherwise did not enjoy.  Should you be interested in a summary of your 4th Amendment rights please see my Avvo Legal Guide to "Encounters, Detentions and Arrests..." which is found here.

As an added bonus for their double douchebaggery (first for - best case - taking a turtle tail, worst case killing a majestic loggerhead and for killing sharks, then, second, for giving the cops consent to search), Hernandez and Suarez's truck, boat and trailer were seized and are going to be the subject of a forfeiture proceeding as, in Florida the Florida Forfeiture Contraband Act (found here) extends to "Any personal property, including, but not limited to, any vessel, aircraft, item, object, tool, substance, device, weapon, machine, vehicle of any kind, money, securities, books, records, research, negotiable instruments, or currency, which was used or was attempted to be used as an instrumentality in the commission of, or in aiding or abetting in the commission of, any felony (F.S. 932.701(2)(a)(5))".  

Regardless of what you are doing, when it comes to cops you have rights, and you are almost always better off in the long run when you invoke them.  You can simultaneously be courteous, polite and respectful AND neither agree or consent to anything.  Be smart, invoke and call **ARRESTED.

When it comes to the subject of "Cops, Courts and Constitutions" you should always have a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who is focused on serving your interests.  While we can't stop the cops from arresting you, as your legal counsel Michael A. Haber, PA will ensure that your rights are respected from the moment that representation begins and that any abuses which may have occurred beforehand are remedied.

At Michael A. Haber, P.A. "Its all about reasonable doubt"!

Michael A. Haber, Esq. is prepared to speak with you about your case!


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