FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Pinellas County; Kathleen T.
Hessinger, Acting Circuit Judge.
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Elba Caridad
Martin, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellant.
L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Daniel Muller, Assistant
Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellee.
State appeals an order granting M.B.W.'s motion to
suppress "[a]ny evidence incident to the search of [a]
hotel room." We have jurisdiction. See Fla. R.
App. P. 9.140(c)(1)(B). The State failed to justify law
enforcement officers' warrantless entry into M.B.W.'s
hotel room. See Welsh v. Wisconsin, 466 U.S. 740,
750 (1984) ("[T]he burden is on the government to
demonstrate exigent circumstances that overcome the
presumption of unreasonableness that attaches to all
warrantless home entries."); Byrd v. State, 16
So.3d 1026, 1028 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009) ("The State bears
the burden of rebutting the presumption that such warrantless
entries are unreasonable."); Cooper v. State,
706 So.2d 369, 370 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998) (observing that
"[t]he State . . . bore the burden to prove the
lawfulness of the detective's warrantless entry into the
room"); Mestral v. State, 16 So.3d 1015, 1017
(Fla. 3d DCA 2009) ("Where, as here, the State relies on
exigent circumstances, '[t]he burden rests on the State
to show the existence of such an exceptional
situation.'" (quoting Vale v. Louisiana,
399 U.S. 30, 34 (1970)); see, e.g., State v.
Fultz, 189 So.3d 155, 158 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016)
("Exigent circumstances are one such exception that may
justify a warrantless search, but the police must have an
objectively reasonable basis to support their actions."
(citing Vanslyke v. State, 936 So.2d 1218, 1221-22
(Fla. 2d DCA 2006))); Diaz v. State, 34 So.3d 797,
802 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) ("The officers must have a
reasonable, articulable suspicion that the protective sweep
is necessary due to a safety threat or the destruction of
evidence."). Thus, we affirm.
enforcement officers had an outstanding probable cause
affidavit for M.B.W. stemming from a misdemeanor domestic
battery. Learning "that [M.B.W.] was at an Express
Inn," officers went there and spoke to the manager.
Being told that M.B.W. was a minor, the manager asked the
officers to remove him from the premises. As it turns out,
another occupant of the room, J.S., was also a minor and had
rented the room using a false name. Three officers and the
manager went to the room; upon arriving, the manager knocked
on the door.
answered the door and the officers recognized him
immediately. Detective Dodson "reached in [the room] and
grabbed [M.B.W.'s] arm to place him under arrest."
The officers removed M.B.W. from the doorway and secured him
in the hallway/breezeway. At that point, one of the officers
saw another occupant dart toward the back of the
room. Ultimately, a third occupant was
discovered hiding in the bathroom. After handcuffing M.B.W.,
the officers entered the hotel room with M.B.W. in tow. The
officers observed, in plain view, a scale with cocaine
resting on a nightstand. They also noticed a backpack resting
behind the scale. After being read their
Miranda rights, the three occupants disclaimed
ownership of the backpack. Believing the backpack to have
been abandoned, the officers opened it and discovered Xanax,
marijuana, and alprazolam inside.
the officers obtained a hotel surveillance video. The video
showed M.B.W. "waiting outside - just outside the front
door as J.S. was checking into the hotel." The video
depicts M.B.W. wearing a backpack identical to that found in
the hotel room.
granting M.B.W.'s suppression motion, the trial court
reasoned that once M.B.W. was arrested in the doorway,
"no further action was necessary by the police."
Therefore, they "had no lawful authority to enter the
hotel room and no lawful authority to search the
backpack." The trial court also found that it was the
hotel manager's obligation, not that of the officers, to
remove the minors from the premises. The trial court found no
exigent circumstances justifying entry into the room because
"[t]he officers gave no testimony as to why the movement
of the other male occupant in the room caused any type of
alarm for their safety." To support this point, the
trial court observed that the officers dragged M.B.W. back
into the room with them.
appeal, the State raises two main arguments. First, the State
argues that M.B.W. lacked standing to challenge the
officers' entry into the room because "the person
[who] did rent the room did so illegally as she was a minor
and used a false name." Second, the State contends that
officers had a right to enter the hotel room without a
warrant because: (a) the exigent circumstances exception to
the warrant requirement justified a protective
sweep; and, (b) they were lawfully assisting the
hotel manager to evict the minors from the premises.
reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress,
this court must give deference to the trial court's
factual findings if those findings are supported by
competent, substantial evidence, but this court must review
the trial court's ruling of law de novo." State
v. Roman, 103 So.3d 922, 924 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012).
State claims that "M.B.W. had no expectation of privacy
in the hotel room. First, he did not rent the room. Second,
the person that did rent the room did so illegally as she was
a minor and used a false name." We cannot agree. See
Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 33 (2001)
("[A] Fourth Amendment search occurs when the government
violates a subjective expectation of privacy that society
recognizes as reasonable."); State v. Markus,
211 So.3d 894, 902 (Fla. 2017) ("A person has standing
to claim Fourth Amendment protection if that person has a
reasonable expectation of privacy in the invaded place."
(citing Minnesota v. Olson, 495 U.S. 91, 95
State raised standing in the trial court after the
parties' presentation of evidence. As such, we are
dubious of the State's complaint, made for the first time
on appeal, that M.B.W. "failed to introduce any evidence
or argue any legal authority [to the trial court]
establishing a reasonable expectation of privacy."
See State v. Pettis, 266 So.3d 238, 239 (Fla. 2d DCA
2019) ("Although standing was not raised below, the
State correctly observes that it may raise lack of standing
for the first time on appeal."); State v.
Setzler, 667 So.2d 343, 345 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995)
("The defense has the burden to prove standing,
where standing is at issue.") (emphasis added).
any failure to present evidence on this issue would not
compel reversal; ordinarily, we would remand for the trial
court to receive evidence about M.B.W.'s standing.
See, e.g., Murphy v. State, 32 So.3d 122,
125 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009) ("While the issue can be
addressed by this court, Murphy was never given an
opportunity to meet his burden of proof on this issue.
Accordingly, Murphy is entitled to an evidentiary hearing on
the matter." (citation omitted)); McCauley v.
State, 842 So.2d 897, 900 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002)
("Because McCauley was not given an opportunity to prove
his interest in the premises below due to the State's
tacit concession of standing, we conclude that he is entitled
to a hearing on the matter."). We need not do that here.
On our record, we can dispose of the State's standing
argument. See Hendley v. State, 58 So.3d 296, 299
(Fla. 2d DCA 2011) (declining to reverse and remand trial
court's denial of motion to suppress on issue of standing
raised for the first time on appeal because "a remand
for that purpose would be a futile exercise in this
Identity of payor not dispositive of standing
State contends that M.B.W. lacked standing because he did not
rent the room. The State misses the mark. The touchstone of
any Fourth Amendment analysis is whether the defendant had a
reasonable expectation of privacy in the place searched.
See Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 143 (1978);
see also Williams v. State, 982 So.2d 1190, 1194
(Fla. 4th DCA 2008) ("A citizen's right to privacy
under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United
States is determined by a two prong test: 1) whether the
citizen had a subjective expectation of privacy; and 2)
whether that expectation was one that society recognizes as
reasonable." (citing State v. Smith, 641 So.2d
849, 851 (Fla. 1994))). Generally, hotel guests have a
reasonable expectation of privacy in their lodgings. See
Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483, 489-90 (1964)
("[A] guest in a hotel room is entitled to
constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and
seizures."); Cooper, 706 So.2d at 370
("The occupants of a motel room enjoy the protection of
the Fourth Amendment."); Gnann v. State, 662
So.2d 406, 407 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995) ("The constitutional
rights and privileges that apply to occupants of private
permanent dwellings also apply to motel guests.");
State v. McRae, 194 So.3d 524, 528 (Fla. 1st DCA
2016) ("A private home (including a motel room) 'is
an area where a person enjoys the highest reasonable
expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment.'"
(quoting Gonzalez v. State, 578 So.2d 729, 734 (Fla.
3d DCA 1991))); Green v. State, 824 So.2d 311, 314
(Fla. 4th DCA 2002) ("As homes to the peripatetic, hotel
and motel rooms are legally imbued 'with the sanctity of
private dwellings, ordinarily afforded the most stringent
Fourth Amendment protection.'" (quoting United
States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 561 (1976)));
State v. Wesley, 749 So.2d ...