County Criminal Court:  CRIMINAL LAW – traffic stop – trial court erred in granting motion to suppress and dismissing information – arresting officer observed defendant driving at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night on a dirt access road with a transporter tag – officer’s observation of defendant driving at a time and location inconsistent with business license justified traffic stop -- Order reversed.  State v. Ghasri, No. 02-22240 CFANO (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. Jan. 30, 2004). 

 

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

APPELLATE DIVISION

 

STATE OF FLORIDA,

                        Appellant,

 

vs.                                                                                            Appeal No. CRC 02-22240 APANO

                                                                                                UCN522002AP022240XXXXCR

AKBAR E. GHASRI,

                        Appellee.

____________________________________/

 

Opinion filed ________________________

 

Appeal from Dismissal

Judge William H. Overton

 

C. Marie King, Esquire

Assistant State Attorney

 

Akbar E. Ghasri

Appellee, pro se

 

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

            THIS CAUSE came before the Court on appeal, filed by State from the Order Granting Motion to Suppress and Dismissing Information, entered November 26, 2002. Upon review of the Initial Brief, [1] the record, and being otherwise fully advised, the Court reverses the Order as set forth below.

            The undisputed facts are that at approximately 8:00 p.m. on June 8, 2002, Deputy Robert Staples, of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, was on routine patrol when he observed a white Honda Accord with a transporter tag parked between two mangroves on the side of Gandy Boulevard near the beach area.  Deputy Staples did not see anyone in or around the vehicle and believed that the vehicle was possibly abandoned.  Approximately five to ten minutes later, Deputy Staples observed the same vehicle traveling on a dirt access road with two people in the vehicle.  When the vehicle had gone past the entryway from the dirt access road, which would have allowed access onto Gandy, Deputy Staples conducted an investigatory stop of the vehicle.  Deputy Staples stopped the vehicle because he believed a criminal infraction was occurring in the use of the transporter tag at that time and location.  Thereafter, Deputy Staples arrested and charged the driver, Akbar E. Ghasri, with attaching tag not assigned and driving while license suspended or revoked.  The trial court granted Ghasri’s Motion to Suppress finding that Deputy Staples’ “mere suspicion” of criminal activity was insufficient to conduct an investigatory stop.

            In reviewing a trial court’s ruling on a motion to suppress, a defendant is entitled to a de novo review of the application of the law to the facts.  See Nicholas v. State, 857 So.2d 980, 981 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003).  Accordingly, the Court finds that the trial court erred in granting Ghasri’s Motion to Suppress.  It is clear that Deputy Staples had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity at the time he initiated the investigatory stop.  See Popple v. State, 626 So.2d 185, 186 (Fla. 1993)(explaining that a police officer may reasonably detain a citizen temporarily if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime).  Deputy Staples’ observation of the vehicle being driven at approximately 8 p.m. on a Saturday night in that location with a transporter tag justified a traffic stop.  See Green v. State, 743 So.2d 1233 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999)(finding that police officer’s observation of defendant driving at a time and location inconsistent with business license justified a traffic stop); see also State v. Corvin, 677 So.2d 947 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996)(holding that the temporary detention of motorist was valid, regardless of whether officer, who had probable cause to believe the defendant’s license tag did not comply with applicable traffic laws, also had ulterior motives for the stop).

              Therefore, it is, 

            ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Order Granting Motion to Suppress and Dismissing Information is reversed and this cause is remanded for action consistent with the Order and Opinion.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida this ________ day of January 2004.

 

 

                                                                        ___________________________________

                                                                        ROBERT J. MORRIS, JR.

                                                                        Circuit Judge

 

 

 

 

                                                                        ___________________________________

                                                                        IRENE SULLIVAN

                                                                        Circuit Judge

 

 

 

                                                                        ___________________________________

                                                                        DAVID A. DEMERS

                                                                        Circuit Judge

 

Copies furnished to:

Judge William H. Overton

 

C. Marie King, Assistant State Attorney

 

Akbar E. Ghasri

108 East Flora Street

Tampa, FL  33604



[1] The Appellee failed to file an Answer Brief as directed by the Court in its Order Granting Motion to Withdraw, entered August 4, 2003.