Florida v. Knight, 2014 WL 7243139 (Fla.App. 1 Dist.) December 22, 2014

Facts:  Detective B of the Neptune Beach Police Department was using forensic software to look for images of child sexual abuse being transferred via peer-to-peer networks.  The program would log the IP Address of any computer trading known images of child sexual abuse.  One such IP address was found to be assigned to Comcast.  A subpoena to Comcast revealed the IP address was associated to an address located in Atlantic Beach.  Detective B called the Atlantic Beach Police Department and informed them of the criminal activity.  Detective B asked APD if they wanted to keep the case or have Detective B forward to ICAC of Northeast Florida.  APD kept the case but asked for assistance from Detective B.  At that time there was a mutual aid agreement between the two law enforcement agencies.

Issue: Appellant appeals his conviction of two counts of possession of child sexual abuse images by arguing the trial court erred in denying three motions.  We will only discuss one here, as the other two were affirmed without discussion. The motion sought to suppress all evidence seized as a result of the extra-jurisdictional investigation and search of appellant’s home computer located in Atlantic Beach by Detective B of the Neptune Beach Police Department.

Law: Generally, municipal law enforcement officers can exercise their law enforcement powers only within the territorial limits of the municipality. Nunn v. State, 121 So.3d 566, 567 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013); State v. Griffis, 502 So.2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987). One exception allows an officer to act outside of his or her jurisdiction if the subject matter of the investigation originates inside city limits. Nunn, 121 So.3d at 568; State v. Allen, 790 So.2d 1122, 1125 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001); State v. Price, 589 So.2d 1009, 1010 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991); Wilson v. State, 403 So.2d 982, 984 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980). Another exception applies if the officer acts in accordance with a voluntary cooperation agreement pursuant to section 23.121, Florida Statutes, or an interlocal agreement to provide law enforcement services pursuant to section 166.0495, Florida Statutes. Jarrett v. State, 926 So.2d 429 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006); Allen, 790 So.2d at 1125–26.

Holding: Detective B’s investigation involved computer files appellant placed in folders that were shared over a peer-to-peer network. Because the child pornography present on appellant’s computer could be accessed over the Internet by way of appellant’s file-sharing program, appellant cannot argue that this portion of Detective B’s investigation was outside her territorial jurisdiction. In fact, Detective B did not know whether the source of the child pornography being shared over the Internet was located inside or outside her territorial jurisdiction.  Once Detective B realized the location of the criminal activity she did the right thing and informed the proper jurisdiction.   Affirmed.

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