IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA
APPELLATE DIVISION

TANYA MARIE KETCH,

            Appellant,

vs.                                                                                            Appeal No.: 99-9217 CFANO

STATE OF FLORIDA,

            Appellee.

______________________________/

Opinion Filed __________________

Appeal from the Denial of Defendant’s Motion to Suppress

County Court, Criminal Division, Pinellas County

The Honorable William H. Overton

Daniel J. Fernandez, Esquire
Suite 280, One Harbour Place
777 S. Harbour Island Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33602

Maria DeBlasio, Esquire
Assistant State Attorney
P.O. Box 5028
Clearwater, FL 33758

ORDER AND OPINION

            THIS CAUSE came before the Court on appeal of the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s Motion to Suppress or in the Alternative, Motion in Limine.  Having reviewed the record on appeal and being otherwise duly advised in the premises, the Court finds that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion.

The judicial process involved in determining whether the relevance of evidence is substantially outweighed by the possible prejudice it creates is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard.  See Owens v. State, 560 So. 2d 207 (Fla. 1990).   Further, the reviewing court must interpret the reasonable inferences and the evidence in a manner that is most favorable to sustaining the trial court’s decision. See id.

In the case sub judice, police officers stopped the Appellant for suspicion of driving under the influence.  One is guilty of driving under the influence if he or she is driving and is “under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that his normal faculties are impaired[.]” See § 316.193, Fla. Stat. (1999).  Cannabis is a substance controlled under Section 893.03(1)(c), Florida Statutes (1999), and circumstantial evidence of marijuana use was found in the Appellant’s car.

Given that the Appellant refused breath and urine tests, the officers’ presumptions, raised by their observations of the Appellant, regarding her recent use of marijuana, remained inconclusive.  Thus, the influence of a controlled substance on the Appellant remained a fact of consequence for the state to prove. As such, the trial judge made the determination that the proffered evidence had some tendency, however minute, to prove or disprove a material fact.  This is all that is required to make evidence relevant.  See § 90.401, Fla. Stat. (1999). 

The trial judge below was asked to exclude this evidence on grounds that its introduction might unfairly prejudice a jury against the Appellant.  Neither the trial judge, nor this Court finds merit in this argument.  A jury is entitled to consider evidence tending to prove any of the necessary material elements of an offense.  See State v. Weitz, 500 So. 2d 657, 659 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986), acq. in result, State v. McClain, 525 So. 2d 420 (Fla. 1988).  To claim that one will suffer prejudice by evidence of the very act for which one is on trial is a non sequitur.  As noted in Weitz, while it is true that knowledge that a defendant has ingested illegal drugs may prejudice some prospective jurors, it is another matter to say that because of such possible bias, no juror may hear that the defendant has ingested drugs.  See id. at 659.   As such, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion.  It is therefore

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the decision of the trial court to deny the Defendant’s Motion to Suppress or in the Alternative, Motion in Limine, is affirmed.

DONE AND ORDERED in chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida, this 30th day of June 2000.

 

  ________________________________
CHARLES W. COPE
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
 

 

Copies Furnished To:

The Honorable William H. Overton

Daniel J. Fernandez, Esquire
Suite 280, One Harbour Place
777 S. Harbour Island Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33602

Maria DeBlasio, Esquire
Assistant State Attorney
P.O. Box 5028
Clearwater, FL 33758

Staff Attorney