Frost v. State , 4D09–3561.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Citation53 So.3d 1119
Docket NumberNo. 4D09–3561.,4D09–3561.
PartiesAndre FROST, Appellant,v.STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date26 January 2011

53 So.3d 1119

Andre FROST, Appellant,
STATE of Florida, Appellee.

No. 4D09–3561.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District.

Jan. 26, 2011.

[53 So.3d 1121]

Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Tatjana Ostapoff, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Melanie Dale Surber, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.GROSS, C.J.

Andre Frost appeals the circuit court's denial of his dispositive motion to suppress in a case where he entered pleas of no contest to charges involving possession of cocaine and cannabis. Frost contends that the state failed to establish the reliability of the police dog that alerted to the presence of drugs in his car. We find that competent, substantial evidence supported the circuit court's finding of probable cause based on the dog sniff, and affirm.

Deputy Paul Jackson stopped Frost's Dodge Neon for running a stop sign. Corporal Randy Thomas arrived at the scene after the traffic stop. Jackson approached Frost's car and spoke with Frost. The deputy asked if he could search the car, but Frost said no. Thomas called for a dog unit.

While Jackson was writing a traffic citation, Detective Richard Voss arrived at the scene with his dog, Rex. Voss walked Rex around Frost's car for the dog to perform an exterior sniff. Rex alerted at the driver's seat. Voss returned Rex to his patrol car and told Jackson and Thomas about the alert. Jackson finished writing the citation and issued it to Frost.

After Frost was removed from his car, Thomas and Voss searched it. The search turned up powder and crack cocaine in an Altoids can found between the driver's seat and center console. A bag with marijuana was found in the same area. The deputies placed Frost under arrest.

Detective Voss described Rex's training and experience. The two had been a team for six or seven years. Rex was a dual purpose K–9, which means that he was an apprehension dog in addition to serving as a narcotics detection dog. The Okeechobee Sheriff's Office obtained Rex from Metro–Dade K–9 Services in Hialeah. K–9 Services had trained Rex for narcotics and apprehension work. This initial training was the basic training Rex needed to be a police dog. A police dog's handler then conducts proficiency training throughout the dog's career.

Voss explained that he relied on Rex's alerts to provide probable cause for searches. He testified that Rex was certified to detect marijuana, cocaine, hash, heroin, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. Rex was certified in narcotics and apprehension work by the National Detection Dog Association, the North American Police Work Dog Association, and the Florida Police Work Dog Association. Voss tried to maintain the dog's certifications each year, depending on the location where the certification evaluations were held. Over the time that Voss and Rex worked together, they obtained between 50 and 80 certificates. In addition to that training, Voss trained Rex once a week or every other week in a controlled odor environment. The sheriff's office maintained records for Rex's certifications and training.

On cross-examination, Voss stated that Rex had failed one test. During that 2007 test, methamphetamine was placed in a car. Rex was able to recognize the odor and identify the car, but not the source of

[53 So.3d 1122]

the odor within the car, “because of the depth of the hide.” This one failed test was but one portion of an overall certification evaluation.

Voss also described instances where Rex alerted to the odor of drugs in a car but a subsequent search located no drugs. Voss estimated these false positives, or alerts to residual odor, occurred in less than 5% of the hundreds of times Rex had been used. He added that, in such cases, he often questioned the driver of the car and determined that drugs had at one time been used in the car. Voss did not calculate an overall accuracy rate for Rex and he did not know of any agency that did so for its dogs.

Frost argued that Rex's alert, by itself, did not provide probable cause for the search of the car. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, relying on State v. Laveroni, 910 So.2d 333 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).

Two lines of cases address the sufficiency of a police dog's reliability to provide probable cause for a warrantless search. Frost relies on the first line of cases, which began with Matheson v. State, 870 So.2d 8 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003), review dismissed, 896 So.2d 748 (Fla.2005), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 998, 126 S.Ct. 545, 163 L.Ed.2d 499 (2005). In Matheson, the Second District held that a dog's alert to the presence of drugs may provide probable cause, but not by itself; proof that a narcotic dog has been trained and certified is insufficient in and of itself to establish probable cause for a search. Id. at 12, 14. The State must also demonstrate that “an alert by a narcotics detection dog is sufficiently ‘reliable’ to furnish probable cause to search.” Id. at 14. Factors informing reliability are the dog's training, the standards or criteria used to select dogs for narcotics training, the standards the dog had to meet to complete training, and the dog's performance history. Id. The Second District placed particular emphasis on the dog's performance history. Id. at 15.

No other district has followed Matheson. See State v. Tanner, 915 So.2d 762 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005); Gibson v. State, 968 So.2d 631 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007), review dismissed, 985 So.2d 1088 (Fla.2008); Tedder v. State, 18 So.3d 1052 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008); State v. McNeal, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D1261, –––So.3d –––– (Fla. 2d DCA June 4, 2010).

The state urges us to rely on the second line of cases, beginning with our decision in State v. Laveroni, which reversed a circuit court's grant of a motion to suppress. There, the defendant's written motion argued that drug evidence should be suppressed because of the unreasonably long length of time between a traffic stop and the arrival of the dog. Laveroni, 910 So.2d at 334. At the hearing on the motion, after the presentation of evidence and argument, the circuit court sua sponte raised “the issue of whether there was sufficient proof that the narcotics dog was qualified so as to establish probable cause under Matheson v. State.Id. Neither party had...

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    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 8 d2 Março d2 2011
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    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 5 d4 Abril d4 2012
    ...and Melanie Dale Surber, Assistant Attorneys General, West Palm Beach, FL, for Respondent.PER CURIAM. We have for review Frost v. State, 53 So.3d 1119 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011), a case that was stayed pending disposition of Harris v. State, 71 So.3d 756 (Fla.2011), cert. granted,––– U.S. ––––, 13......
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    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books The Florida Criminal Cases Notebook. Volume 1-2 Volume 1
    • 30 d5 Abril d5 2021
    ...the parties. Judicial dicta have the force of a determination by a reviewing court and are controlling on a lower court. Frost v. State, 53 So. 3d 1119 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) When defendant testifies that he asked his attorney to file an appeal, and the attorney testifies he has no recollectio......

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