County Criminal Court:
CRIMINAL LAW – DUI – citizen informant – caller was citizen informant
as his identity was readily ascertainable and the caller was not motivated
by any reason other than concern for the safety of others – trial court’s
order granting motion to suppress must be sustained as there was insufficient
information given by the citizen informant and there were discrepancies in
what information what actually provided in the citizen informant tip -- Order
affirmed. State v. Bennett, No. 02-19155 CFANO
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
vs. Appeal No. CRC 02-19155 CFANO
VANESSA M. BENNETT,
Opinion filed ________________________
Appeal from Order Granting
Motion to Suppress
Judge William H. Overton
Dwayne D. Perser, Esquire
Attorney for Appellant
Attorney for Appellee
THIS CAUSE came before the Court on appeal, filed by State from the Order Granting Motion to Suppress, entered October 15, 2002. Upon review of the briefs, the record, and being otherwise fully advised, the Court affirms the Order as set forth below.
At the hearing on the Motion to Suppress,
Sergeant Dan Morton, of the Treasure Island Police Department, testified that
he was on routine patrol when he received a BOLO (“be on the lookout”) from
the Department’s dispatcher advising that a dark-colored Nissan SUV had left
Gators on the Pass (Gators) and that the female driver was driving with a
suspended license. The dispatcher received
the information via a phone call from a Gators’ security officer, Vincent
Ogden. Mr. Ogden testified that he
called the police because he believed the Appellee, Vanessa M. Bennett, to
be intoxicated. Mr. Ogden testified
that he did not call the police because he believed Ms. Bennett to be driving
with a suspended license, information that Mr. Ogden had received two nights
before from Officer Ashby, a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Officer who worked
“off-duty detail” at Gators. The only
other information provided by Mr. Ogden to the dispatcher is that Ms. Bennett
was driving a blue Jeep with a male passenger.
Shortly after receiving the dispatch, at approximately 1:41 a.m., Sergeant
Morton conducted a traffic stop of Ms. Bennett just off
On appeal, the State argues that the trial court erred in granting Ms. Bennett’s Motion to Suppress since the traffic stop resulted from a tip provided by citizen informant so was sufficient by itself to justify the stop. In reviewing a trial court’s ruling on a motion to suppress, the Court reiterates the appropriate standard of review, as recently set forth in Nicholas v. State, 857 So.2d 980, 981 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003):
trial court’s ruling on a motion to suppress comes to the appellate court
clothed with a presumption of correctness, and the reviewing court must interpret
the evidence and reasonable inferences and deductions derived therefrom in
a manner most favorable to sustaining the trial court’s ruling.
Pagan v. State, 830 So.2d 792 (
the Court finds that the trial court’s ruling must be sustained. As provided in the transcript, at the conclusion
of the hearing, the trial court specifically found that Mr. Ogden was a
“citizen informant” rather than an “anonymous informant.” (emphasis added). This finding is supported by the record and
must be sustained. See State
v. Maynard, 783 So.2d 226 (
Rather, it is clear from the transcript that the trial court was troubled by the discrepancies in the testimony of Mr. Ogden and Sergeant Morton and determined that there was insufficient information to establish reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop. As set forth above, Mr. Ogden testified that a female had left Gators in a blue Jeep in what he observed to be an intoxicated state. No other identifying information was provided. Sergeant Morton testified that the dispatcher issued a BOLO that a dark-colored Nissan SUV had left Gators with a female driver who was believed to be driving with a suspended license. Indeed, the Court notes in reviewing the record, that the citation issued Ms. Bennett by Sergeant Morton describes stopping a blue 4-door Toyota SUV.
Accordingly, given the insufficient information provided by Mr. Ogden, coupled with the discrepancies in what information was actually provided in the “citizen informant” tip, the Court finds that the trial court’s ruling must be sustained even though its reliance on Swanson v. State, 591 So.2d 1114 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992), and State v. Perkins, 760 So.2d 85 (Fla. 2000), is misplaced.  In so affirming, the Court finds that Mr. Ogden did not describe the suspect, other than stating she that was “female,” did not provide a tag number, and was otherwise unavailable to identify the suspect prior to her detention. See e.g. Maynard, 783 So.2d at 228 (affirming defendant’s conviction when citizen informant, who was later determined to be the suspect’s mother, gave specific descriptions of her son, the car, including the make, model and color of the car, and the direction in which she believed her son was driving; see also Manuel, 796 So.2d at 603 (finding that the citizen informant personally identified the suspect prior to the suspect’s detention); Aguilar v. State, 700 So.2d 58 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997)(same); State v. Evans, 692 So.2d 216 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997)(same).
Therefore, it is,
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Order Granting Motion to Suppress is affirmed.
ORDERED in Chambers, at
ROBERT J. MORRIS, JR.
DAVID A. DEMERS
Copies furnished to:
Judge William H. Overton
Dwayne D. Perser, Esquire
Douglas Prior, Esquire
 Other facts surrounding the arrest, including that Ms. Bennett originally lied about her identity and that she passed the field sobriety tests requested of Sergeant Morton, are not relevant to the issues raised on appeal.