I am at the briefing stage of a motion to suppress. The facts: Defendant was evicted from the trailer park 10 years ago for non-payment of rent. Owner never moved trailer and trailer park owner never took legal action to recover the trailer based on value of trailer minus county tax liens. Park owner gave police permission to search the trailer periodically for squatters and illegal activity. Police acted in good faith. On one search police discovered trailer's owner in the trailer along with methamphetamine. Defendant was charged with possession. I challenged initially on standing and lost. Any guidance? The judge seems to be inclined to suppress based on the defendant's ownership of the trailer absent any cases on point. At what point does it become absurd that the defendant could "abandon" property for nearly a decade and claim 4th amendment protection from search.
If the def. left his trailer in a RV park for 10 years without paying rent, if he hasn't actually abandoned the property, he has in practice relinquished some degree of control of the trailer to the management of the RV park. Apparently he never objected to the RV park sending in police to roust squatters. I'd argue that if he still owns the trailer, at the very least he has by his conduct at least given the RV park authority to send police into the trailer.
I'd also research abandoned property law. There may be a specific statute that deals with abandoned trailers in RV parks.
There may be a RV park association in your state that has an atty they use to answer common trailer park management problems that arise. He might have some ideas for you regarding what authority an RV park has on trailers that are de facto abandoned.
Here's another thought. Look at the written contract or rental agreement the def. signed with the RV park 10 years ago. It may give the RV park authority to send in the cops in certain circumstances. If so, I'd ask to re-open the suppression hearing to allow in that piece of evidence.
Would an argument for "community caretaking" be worth a look.
Property abandoned for 10 years, trailer park owner invites police in to safeguard the property (abandoned trailer AND the trailer park) from vandalism, accidental fire, other public safety issues?
|Powered by Social Strata|
© TDCAA, 2001. All Rights Reserved.