Criminal County Court: CRIMINAL LAW --- DUI --- Corpus delicit met where police found what appeared to have been a recent accident in wet conditions and found defendant/registered owner at home one block away, who came to meet police wearing wet pants and appeared to be under the influence. Judgment and sentence affirmed. Clifford v. State, No. CRC 06-5 APANO (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. December 19, 2007)

 

 

 

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING

AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

 

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

 

 

 

SCOTT ACKER CLIFFORD

 

††††††††††† Appellant,

 

v.                                                                                                                                           Appeal No. CRC 06-05 APANO

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† UCN522006AP000005XXXXCR

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

††††††††††† Appellee.

____________________________/

 

Opinion filed _________________.

 

Appeal from a judgment and sentence

entered by the Pinellas County Court

County Judge Paul A. Levine

 

Jenna Finkelstein, Esquire

Assistant Public Defender

 

C. Marie King, Esquire

Assistant State Attorney

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

††††††††††† (J. Demers)

 

††††††††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the appellant, Scott Cliffordís, appeal from a judgment and sentence entered by the Pinellas County Court. Initially, appellate counsel filed an Anders brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 So.2d 738 (1967). This Court, as it is required to do, reviewed the entire record. Following that review, this Court asked that a particular issue be briefed. Appellate counsel filed a supplemental brief on the issue, and the State filed a response. After reviewing the supplemental briefs and record, this Court affirms the judgment and sentence.

††††††††††† The defendant was convicted of DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. He appealed the denial of his motion to suppress and motions in limine. The issue that this Court asked to be briefed was the corpus delicti issue raised in one of the defendantís motions in limine. The defendant was attempting to have his admissions that he had been at a bar and had lost control of his car while driving home kept out of evidence because the State had not met its burden to prove the corpus delicti. After reviewing the supplemental brief and the Stateís response to the issue, this Court is satisfied that the State met its burden and the evidence was properly admitted.††††††

††††††††††† Under the corpus delicti rule, the admissions of the defendant in a DUI case may not be received into evidence until it can be established by other evidence that a motor vehicle was driven, and that the driver was under the influence. Burks v. State, 613 So.2d 441 (Fla. 1993). For practical purposes, what the State must show in this case is some evidence, other than the defendantís own confession, that he was driving the vehicle. The burden of showing this other evidence is on the State, but the State may use circumstantial evidence. Esler v. State, 915 So.2d 637 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005).

††††††††††† In the case at bar, there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to show that the defendant was driving. The police found what appeared to be a very recent one-car accident. The car seemed to have run over a road sign and blown out a tire. The deputy determined that the registered owner of the car resided one block from the crash scene. The deputy quickly arrived at the home and asked to see the registered owner. When the registered owner (the defendant) appeared, he was in street clothes with the pants wet up to the knee. The deputy remembered that it had been raining and there was wet grass at the crash scene. The defendant was swaying, had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and had a strong odor of alcohol coming from him. All of this circumstantial evidence, taken together, was sufficient to satisfy the Stateís initial burden. The defendantís admissions were properly introduced into evidence.

††††††††††† IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgment and sentence is affirmed.

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in Clearwater, Pinellas County, this _____ day of December, 2007.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ___________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† David A. Demers

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Court Judge

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ____________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Raymond O. Gross

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Court Judge

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† _____________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Robert J. Morris, Jr.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Court Judge

 

cc:††††††† Office of the Public Defender

 

††††††††††† Honorable Paul A. Levine

 

††††††††††† Office of the State Attorney