Town Center Nightie Arrest – Questions

moralesThe Sun-Sentinel has an interesting story about an arrest in one of the parking garages in Town Center. The salacious details are that the woman is supposedly wearing lingerie and sleeping in her car. When confronted by police she eventually tries to drive off and they accuse her of aggravated assault.
I looked at the facts as described in the article and have some questions and thoughts. Here’s some excerpts from the article:

Officers found Suzanne Morales, 45, sleeping in the car. They knocked on the car window …. Morales woke up and locked her car doors. Officers asked her to step outside the car, but she refused ….
Police also said they could smell alcohol and suspected she might be drunk ….
They told Morales if she continued to refuse, they would knock out her window.

As a defense lawyer it looks like the police violated her rights.
First of all, it is not illegal to sleep in your car.From the facts in the article, she had every right to lock herself in the car.
Second, they smelled alcohol from outside the car? With the windows closed? I’m sorry folks, but I’m a defense lawyer and that sounds like a routine police lie.
And even if it were true, it’s not illegal to be drunk in your car when you’re parked.
Third, they threatened to knock out her window? That sounds like excessive force and there’s a federal case on it – Deville v. Marcantel.

Officers may consider a suspect’s refusal to comply with instructions during a traffic stop in assessing whether physical force is needed to effectuate the suspect’s compliance. … However, officers must assess not only the need for force, but also “the relationship between the need and the amount of force used.” …
Taking the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, a jury could reasonably find that the degree of force the officers used in this case was not justifiable under the circumstances. A reasonable jury could infer from Deville’s deposition testimony that Marcantel engaged in very little, if any, negotiation with her — and find that he instead quickly resorted to breaking her driver’s side window and dragging her out of the vehicle.

Morales is actually in a better position than Deville was. Deville had been stopped for a traffic violation. Morales had done nothing wrong – and note that she is not charged with any offense for what happened before the police threatened her.
In our opinion, based on the facts we’ve read, the case should be dismissed and Boca PD needs to take a look at how they handled this incident.
We followed up with Sun-Sentinel writer Kate Jacobson on Twitter. She wrote back to us:
KJ: She was on private property & manager complained. Surprised she didn’t get a trespass charge but owner just wanted her out.
WBN: Not trespassing if she wasn’t told to leave.
KJ: According to the [probable cause report] that’s what the cops were there to do. Then she tried to run one of them over, allegedly.
But that’s not what they did. They didn’t order her to leave the property, and it’s not clear that they would even have the authority to make such an order. It’s not their property. State law says they have authority only if they have written authorization from the right entity. That’s the requirement under Florida’s trespassing statute, § 810.08(3).

Author: Warren Redlich

Warren Redlich is a real estate agent and an attorney. He focuses on selling homes in West Boca Raton. Call or text Warren at 561-536-3645. Warren is also a tech YouTuber covering Tesla, SpaceX and more. His YouTube channel is and he sells Elon Musk related t-shirts and other merchadise at Warren also publishes videos about politics at