County Criminal Court-CRIMINAL LAW Ė Search and Seizure- stop- Officer had a well founded suspicion to stop the defendantís vehicle, analysis is of the totality of the circumstances, not the nature of the driverís license restriction.Order of suppression reversed.State v. Negron, No. 03-20APANO (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. April 8, 2003).

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

APPELLATE DIVISION

 

STATE OF FLORIDA,

††††††††††† Appellant,

 

vs.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† APPEAL NO.: CRC01-19586CFANO

 

JOSE NEGRON,

Appellee.

____________________________/

 

Opinion filed:_________________

 

Appeal from Order Granting Defendantís Motion to Suppress

Pinellas County Court

County Judge Paul Levine

 

Amanda Simon

Assistant State Attorney

Attorney for Appellant

 

Michael Bowdish

Assistant State Attorney

Attorney for Appellee

 

AMENDED ORDER AND OPINION

††††††††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Stateís appeal from the trial courtís Order Granting the Defendantís Motion to Suppress.After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court reverses the trial courtís decision.

††††††††††† ďAppellate review of a motion to suppress involves questions of both law and fact and the appellate court must make a de novo review of the trial courtís application of the law to the facts.ĒRosenquiest v. State, 769 So.2d 1051, 1052 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000).In this de novo review, this Court defers to the factual findings of the trial court, but will consider whether those facts amounted to a reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant.

††††††††††† On February 12, 2001, at approximately 11:20 p.m., Officer Milne with the Clearwater Police Department was on routine patrol when he observed the defendant driving.At the suppression hearing Officer Milne testified that he knew the defendant from prior meetings and knew what cars the defendant drove.The officer stated that he knew the defendantís license had been suspended for DUI and that the status of the defendantís license was changed from restricted to business purposes in January of 2001.Officer Milne testified that he patrols the same general area and knows the cares in his area.The officer observed the defendant driving his car.The officer cold see there was a female passenger in the front seat, the driver was male and appeared to be about the same stature as the defendant.The officer testified that this was not normally a time when he would see the defendant driving.The officer determined that the defendant was not heading in the direction of his home as he was heading in an opposite direction from where he lived.Officer Milne did not observe anything abnormal about the defendantís driving.The defendant brought a motion to suppress, arguing that the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion to stop the car, and but for the stop could not determine if the defendant was driving in violation of the business purpose restriction.The trial court agreed and granted the motion to suppress.The State is appealing that decision.

††††††††††† At issue is whether or not the deputy had a reasonable suspicion to stop the defendantís car, not the type of license issued to the driver.The founded suspicion necessary to justify a stop must be based upon the totality of the circumstances as viewed by an experienced police officer.Williams v. State, 769 So.2d 404 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000).This Court finds that the officer did have a reasonable suspicion to stop the car.The office was aware of the status of the defendantís driverís license.He knew the defendant from prior meetings, he knew where the defendant lived and observed him at 11:20 p.m. driving away from his home.

In Smith v. State, 574 So.2d 3000 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991), the court held that ďan officerís investigatory detention of a vehicle is supported by a well founded suspicion of unlawful activity when the officer first determines that the vehicleís registered owner does not possess a valid driverís license.ĒThere is no difference between an invalid license, a license restricting the drier to work purposes or a license restricted to business purposes if the officer has observed circumstances that create a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle is not being used for the purpose limited to the restriction of the license.The analysis is of the officerís well founded suspicion, not the nature of the driverís license restriction.This is the situation in the case at bar.Therefore, based upon the holding in Smith, the order suppressing the evidence is reversed and this cause is remanded for action consistent with this Order and Opinion.It is further

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the opinion of December 5, 2003 is withdrawn and this Order substituted in its place.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of ___________, 2003.

 

__________________________________

NANCY MOATE LEY

Circuit Judge

Primary Appellate Judge

 

 

 

 

__________________________________

W. DOUGLAS BAIRD

Circuit Judge

 

 

 

___________________________________

R. TIMOTHY PETERS

Circuit Judge

 

Copies furnished to:

 

Judge Paul A. Levine

 

Amanda Simon

Assistant State Attorney

 

Michael Bowdish

Assistant Public Defender