Published on:

Voluntary admissions made following a warrantless entry not subject to exclusion

After a brief hiatus, please find this Miami’s defense attorney’s latest entry, summarizing a recent opinion from the 11th Judicial Circuit. The opinion touches on topics and practice areas relevant to the Swartz Law Firm’s scope of expertise, including sex offenses and internet crimes.

In U.S. v. Slaughter the defendant appealed his conviction for use of the internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity (18 U.S.C. §2422(b) and committing a felony involving a minor while being required to register as a sex offender (18 U.S.C. §2260A). Registered as a sex offender, he went on Craig’s list and responded to a post by a 14 year-old girl named Hanna seeking someone to buy alcohol for her and some friends. Hanna turned out to be an FBI agent. After a flurry of emails Slaughter began expressing an interest in a sexual encounter with the two girls and suggested they rent a hotel room. Knowing they were underage, he made plans to meet them at a specific hotel. On the arranged date, agents arrived at the hotel room and without an arrest warrant or a search warrant, they entered his room, tackled him, and told him they intended to search his room and car. Later, he was taken to the county sheriff’s office where he was read his rights pursuant to Miranda. He signed a waiver and admitted to trying to entice the girls to meet him at the hotel room by his emails.

Slaughter moved to suppress post-arrest statements made at the sheriff’s office following the warrantless entry into his hotel room. The 11th Circuit found the statements to be admissible even though the police had previously entered his hotel room illegally and arrested him. Additionally, the 11th Circuit found the facts similar to the Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Harris where police illegally entered a defendant’s home and arrested him on probable cause he committed a murder and later at the police station he waived Miranda and gave a statement. The Supreme Court found the exclusionary rule does not apply to the statements. Here the police had probable cause to arrest Slaughter, his Miranda rights were read and he voluntarily gave his statement under these circumstances, though the earlier pre-Miranda statement was suppressed the post Miranda statement was not subject to the exclusionary rule.

Slaughter challenged his §2260A conviction arguing the statute requires that an “actual minor” must be the target of the offense in order to support a conviction. Section 2260A, which carries an additional 10 years in prison, makes it an offense for an individual required to register as a sex offender to commit certain enumerated offenses, including the enticement of a minor under §2244. Alternatively, the defendant argued the statute was ambiguous as to whether an actual minor must be involved in the offense so the rule of lenity should apply. The 11th Circuit the §2260A conviction was predicated on his attempted enticement of a minor under §2422, which expressly contains an attempt clause. The court found it was unnecessary to decide the question of whether the statute required that an actual minor must be involved. The court interpreted the statute as intending to criminalize enticement and the attempted enticement of a minor and when it is committed by a registered sex offender. A violation of §2422 does not require and actual minor because of his attempt clause.

Please read my previous post from February 10, 2013:
Amendment restricting a sentence reduction under revised sentencing guidelines does not violate Ex Post Facto Clause