County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL LAW – Statute of Limitations – Defendant who resided in Canada and occasionally visited Florida during limitations period, did not have a reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state. Order of Dismissal reversed. State v. Meakings, No. CRC 07-2 APANO, (Fla. 6th Cir. Ct. App. Feb. 12, 2008).

 

 

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

 

 

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

            Appellant,

 

v.                                                                                                                                           Appeal No. CRC 07-2 APANO

                                                                               UCN522007AP00002XXXXCR

KAREN MEAKINGS

 

            Appellee.

______________________________/

 

 

Opinion filed ____________________.

 

Appeal from an order entered by

the Pinellas County Court

County Judge Edwin Jagger

 

C.Marie King, Esquire

Assistant State Attorney

 

Brooke Elvington, Esquire

Attorney for appellee

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

            (J. Gross)

 

            THIS MATTER is before the Court on the State’s appeal from an order entered by the Pinellas County Court granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court reverses the order.

            The State filed two informations in 2003 for a charge of allegedly passing a worthless check in 2002, and a charge of unlicensed painting also allegedly committed in 2002; but they were not served on the defendant until 2006. Finding that the summonses were not executed without unreasonable delay, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The State claims that this was error.

            This Court must review the trial court’s order granting dismissal de novo. See State v. Pasko, 952 So.2d 611 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007).

            The evidence was that law enforcement went to the defendant’s last known address in early 2003, but they were unable to locate her. An investigator continued looking for the defendant by accessing CJIS. He found a phone number, called it, and was forwarded to a number in Canada. The person answering the phone identified herself as the defendant. The investigator told the defendant there was a warrant for her. The defendant stated that she resided in Canada.  

            The applicable statute of limitations is the one in effect at the time of the alleged crime. See Brown v. State, 674 So.2d 738 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995). §775.15(6), Fla.Stat. (2001) provides that: “the period of limitation does not run during any time when the defendant is continuously absent from the State or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state … .” The trial court concentrated on the first part of the sentence, and did not appear to consider the second. The evidence was that the defendant resided in Canada. Her counsel stated that the defendant had her mail forwarded to a friend’s house when she visited Florida. The inference from the evidence was that she lived in Canada and just stayed with a friend when she visited Florida. The State would not have been able to determine that the defendant was going back and forth between countries or deduce where she stayed when visiting here. Even if it could not be determined from the evidence presented that the defendant was continuously absent from Florida, clearly the defendant had no readily ascertainable place of work or abode within the state. Therefore, the statute of limitations was tolled, and the motion to dismiss should have been denied.

            IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the order granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss is reversed, and this case is remanded to the County Court for action consistent with this Order and Opinion.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Clearwater, Pinellas County, this _____ day of February, 2008.

                                                                        ___________________________

                                                                                    David A. Demers

                                                                                    Circuit Court Judge

 

 

                                                                        ____________________________

                                                                                    Raymond O. Gross

                                                                                    Circuit Court Judge

 

 

                                                                        _____________________________

                                                                                    Robert J. Morris, Jr.

                                                                                    Circuit Court Judge

cc:        Office of the State Attorney

 

            Honorable Edwin Jagger

 

                        Brooke Elvington, Esq.