With a so-called “sneak and peak” search warrant, police officers typically install secret cameras in a location to obtain evidence of an alleged crime.

“Sneak and peak” warrants are controversial for many reasons, and courts in Florida, including the Fourth District Court of Appeal, have recently deemed the practice “extreme” and decided to suppress video evidence obtained through “sneak and peak” warrants.

In some cases, police officers have posed as maintenance and repair workers in order to enter a business, distract the business owners or employees, and secretly install hidden surveillance cameras in common areas of the establishment. This has been done in Palm Beach County and other counties in Florida.

However, “sneak and peak” warrants and the associated video surveillance raise serious questions about people’s right to privacy and the right to protection from unlawful search and seizure. In fact, in a recent high profile case in Palm Beach County, the Fourth District Court of Appeal concluded that “total suppression” of the evidence was “the appropriate remedy,” given the circumstances of the case — namely, how video surveillance was obtained and monitored.

From a criminal defense perspective, search warrants and the resulting evidence must be carefully scrutinized. For more on that, please see our previous post, “Understanding the scope of search warrants.”

The Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., represents criminal defense clients throughout Palm Beach County.