County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL LAW Ė Search and Seizure Ė Stop ĖThe investigatory stop of defendantís car was unlawful where officer determined that registered owner of the vehicle was female and upon stopping vehicle the officer observed the driver was male, justification for stop ended.Deputy testified sole basis for stopping the car was that registered owner had a suspended license.Order of suppression reversed.Smart v. State, No. 02-80 (Fla. 6th cir. App. Ct. Oct. 23, 2002).

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

APPELLATE DIVISION

 

SHAKEIM SMART,

††††††††††† Appellant,

 

vs.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Appeal No.:††††††††††††††† CRC 01-12190CFANO

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Lower Case No.:††††††† CTC 00-4169ANJANC

 

STATE OF FLORIDA,

††††††††††† Appellee.

_____________________________________/

 

Opinion filed _________________________

 

Appeal from denial of Defendantís Motion to Suppress

Pinellas County Court

County Judge Michael R. Andrews

 

Joy K. Goodyear, Esq.

Assistant Public Defender

 

Heather Brooke Quick, Esq.

Assistant State Attorney

 

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

††††††††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendantís appeal from the trial courtís denial of the defendantís Motion to Suppress.After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court reverses the decision of the trial court.

††††††††††† A Pinellas County Sheriffís Deputy was on routine patrol the evening of December 31, 2000.The deputy initiated a random registration check of the license plate on the car in front of him, which the defendant was driving.There was no testimony that the driver had committed any traffic infractions.After determining that the registered owner was a woman, the deputy ran a check of the car ownerís license.The driverís license of the registered owner was suspended.The deputy stopped the car and upon approaching, determined that the driver was a male.There were no other occupants of the car.After making contact with the driver, the deputy determined that the defendantís driving privileges were suspended.The defendant brought a motion to suppress, claiming that the deputy did not have probable cause to initiate a stop for committing a traffic infraction or reasonable suspicion to initiate a stop for violation of a criminal law.The trial court, in a thoughtful opinion, reasoned that pursuant to I.N.S. v. Delgado, 466 U.S. 210 (U.S. 1984) the officerís request of the defendantís drivers license did not transform the case into a detention, nor was the detention intimidating or threatening and the request, by itself, did not serve as a seizure within the Fourth Amendment.Additionally, relying on the analysis in State v. Barnett, 572 So.2d 1033 (Fla. 2d DCA 1991) the trial court found that an officer may request any person to produce his license when that person is operating a car.

††††††††††† At issue is whether or not the deputy had reasonable suspicion to stop the defendantís car.There is no ban against a police office following a motorist anywhere within his jurisdiction and running a check on the license tag.To do so is not a stop, it is not a seizure and it does not impermissibly intrude on any right of the defendantís privacy.State v. S.P., 580 So.2d 216 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991).Accordingly, it was permissible for the deputy to run a check on the license tag of the car.

††††††††††† In this case, the deputy determined that the registered owner of the car was a female.At the suppression hearing, the deputy testified that he could not tell if the driver was male or female.On cross examination, the deputy agreed that he had no other reason to stop the defendant except for the license tag being that of a person whose license was suspended.It was not until the deputy made contact with the driver that he observed the driver was not female.Once the deputy determined that the driver was not female, justification for the stop ended and

the defendant should have been free to leave.The defendantís continued detention after the stop was illegal.Diaz v. State, 800 So.2d 326 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001).It appears from the record, that counsel did not argue Diaz to the trial court.

††††††††††† Based upon the holding in Diaz the order denying the motion to suppress is reversed, and this cause is remanded for action consistent with this Order and Opinion.

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this _______ day of October, 2002.

 

 

 

__________________________________

Nancy Moate Ley

Circuit Judge

 

 

 

 

__________________________________

W. Douglas Baird

Circuit Judge

 

 

 

 

____________________________________

Timothy R. Peters

Circuit Judge

cc:

Joy K. Goodyear, Esq.

Assistant Public Defender

 

Heather Brooke Quick, Esq.

Assistant State Attorney

 

Judge Michael F. Andrews