Court: CRIMINAL LAW --- Search and Seizure – Stop – Trial court correctly
found that caller was a citizen informer where caller identified himself as
“Steve”, told them where he was calling from, and left a phone number. Judgment
and sentence affirmed. Sprentall v. State, No. CRC 06-90 APANO (
NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING
AND IF FILED, DETERMINED
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF THE STATE OF
v. Appeal No. CRC 06-90 APANO
Opinion filed ________________.
Appeal from a judgment and sentence
imposed by the Pinellas County Court
County Court Judge John D. Carballo
Lynda Barack, Esquire
Attorney for appellant
C. Marie King, Esquire
Assistant State Attorney
ORDER AND OPINION
THIS MATTER is before the Court on
the defendant, Robert Sprentall’s, appeal from a judgment and sentence imposed
The defendant entered a no contest plea to a DUI charge, reserving the right to
appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. He claims the initial stop was improper.
trial court’s determination of reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory
stop or detention is subject to de novo review. Ornelas v.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office received a call from an individual at a particular bar. The individual gave his name as “Steve” and his telephone number. He complained that an individual (the defendant) was impaired, and also “psychotic.” The caller informed the Sheriff’s Office that the defendant was driving a silver Land Rover and had driven through the parking lot several times. When a deputy arrived at the bar, he was met by a group of people who pointed in a particular direction and said: “He went that way.” The deputy then headed in the indicated direction, sighted the suspect vehicle, and stopped the defendant. He was ultimately arrested for DUI.
The defendant claims that he should not have been stopped because the deputy stopped him solely on the basis of information received from an anonymous source without corroborating the information. The trial court found that the deputy did not see the defendant violate any traffic laws or have justification to stop him other than from the information received from the caller.
The issue in this case, as framed by the defendant in his brief, is which legal category the caller should be placed. If the caller is considered an anonymous tipster, then the defendant is correct; the stop would have been improper. If, however, the caller is classified as a citizen informant, then the stop would be proper.
If a stop is made based upon an
anonymous source, then law enforcement must corroborate the information prior
to making the stop. In other words, law enforcement must observe some
independent suspicious activity before they may make a valid stop. See e.g., State
v. Maynard, 783 So.2d 226 (Fla.2001); J.L. v. State, 727 So.2d 204 (
The trial court correctly found that the caller is a citizen informant. To be considered a citizen informant, the caller must be an identified person or an identifiable person. See Evans at 218. In the case at bar the caller gave his name and telephone number. The Sheriff’s Office was, in fact, able to contact him. He was, therefore, identifiable and not just an anonymous tipster.
This Court, in the case of Breeden
v. State, No. CRC 03-91 APANO (
Because of the caller’s status as a citizen informer, the deputy did not need to corroborate the information before he made the stop. The deputy could rely upon the information that the defendant was driving and appeared impaired. Such information was sufficient to justify the stop. The trial court was correct to deny the defendant’s motion to suppress. Accordingly, this Court affirms the judgment and sentence.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgment and sentence is affirmed.
Linda R. Allan
Circuit Court Judge
R. Timothy Peters
Circuit Court Judge
John A. Schaefer
Circuit Court Judge
cc: Lynda Barack, Esquire
Office of the State Attorney
Honorable John D. Carballo
 The deputy testified that the radio report said the defendant was “signal one”, which apparently the deputy knew meant the caller had described behavior indicating impairment.