Gunn v. State, 75--1416

Decision Date27 August 1976
Docket NumberNo. 75--1416,75--1416
PartiesArtis GUNN, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Richard L. Jorandby, Public Defender, and Channing E. Brackey, Asst. Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

Robert L. Shevin, Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, and C. Marie Bernard, Asst. Atty. Gen., West Palm Beach, for appellee.


After trial by jury defendant was found guilty of the offense of possession of more than five grams of cannabis, contrary to Section 893.13(1)(e) 1 and 893.13(1)(f) 2, Florida Statutes (1973). Adjudication of guilt was withheld and defendant was placed on probation. Four issues have been raised by this appeal.

First, appellant contends that the trial judge erred in not dismissing the felony charge of possession of more than five grams because the State failed to prove the weight of the cannabis. Defense counsel stipulated that the seized substance was cannabis but made no stipulation as to the amount or weight. The cannabis was not weighed and no competent testimony was presented to establish its weight. In denying defendant's motion for acquittal on the felony charge, the trial judge said:

'While we have no expert testimony as to the weight of those bags, it's something the jury can look at and feel and I think it's really a jury question . . .' Trial transcript, p. 125.

Factually this case is similar to Samet v. State, 284 So.2d 450 (Fla.3d DCA 1973). There is a non-jury trial the State failed to present any evidence as to quantity or weight of the cannabis. Samet's attorney moved to treat the matter as a misdemeanor, but the trial court proceeded on the basis of a felony, without proof of weight, stating: 'Well, I think I can. It's in evidence. I can look at it and I can know it's more than five grams.' The appellate court in Samet, supra, rejected this argument, and reversed the felony conviction.

In the present case the State contends that it has no burden to prove the weight of the cannabis. The State argues that the burden is on the defendant to prove the weight of the marijuana to be less than five grams in order to make the offense a misdemeanor. To accomplish this the State relies upon Section 893.10(1), Florida Statutes (1973), which provides:

'It shall not be necessary for the state to negative any exemption or exception set forth in this chapter in any indictment, information, or other pleading or in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding under this chapter, and the burden of going forward with the evidence with respect to any such exemption or exception shall be upon the person claiming its benefit.'

In our opinion this section is inapplicable. It relates only to the various statutory exemptions or exceptions specifically set forth in Chapter 893. For example, an exception to the crime of possession of a controlled substance under § 893.13(1)(e) is that the controlled substance '. . . was lawfully obtained from a practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice . . .' Under § 893.10 it would not be necessary for the State to prove that the defendant did not have a valid prescription. If the defendant relied upon such an exception as a defense, then the burden of proof would be upon the defendant.

A different situation exists with reference to the weight of the cannabis. If the State as in this case has not alleged and proven a prior conviction under § 893.13(1)(f) it is only the weight of the cannabis that determines whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor. Therefore weight in excess of five grams is an essential element of the felony offense and must be proven by the State. Pope v. State, 268 So.2d 173 (Fla.2d DCA 1972). The trial court erred in not granting defendant's motion of acquittal on the felony charge.

We now consider the second point raised by this appeal. Defendant moved to suppress the cannabis taken from his automobile subsequent to his arrest. The trial court denied the motion.

Defendant first contends that his arrest was invalid because it was made without a warrant although a warrant could have been reasonably obtained. For this proposition defendant relies upon the case of Carter v. State, 199 So.2d 324 (Fla.2d DCA 1967). However the Florida Supreme Court has subsequently held that to the extent Carter, supra, purports to impose requirements other than those set out in Chapter 901, Florida Statutes, for a valid arrest without a warrant, it is erroneous. Falcon v. State, 226 So.2d 399 (Fla.1969). See also State v. Rameriz, 284 So.2d 241 (Fla.4th DCA 1973); State v. Cannon, 317 So.2d 103 (Fla.4th DCA 1975). Defendant's first contention is without merit.

Next defendant contends that even if his arrest was valid the inventory search of his automobile was not. We agree. Defendant testified that after his arrest he asked the arresting officer if he could call his mother so she could come and pick the car up. The arresting officer told the defendant 'I can't do that, it'll be towed away.' A second officer told the defendant that the car was going to be impounded, and he could choose to have a two truck or allow police personnel to drive the vehicle to the police department to be impounded. When presented with these alternatives the defendant gave permission for the officer to drive the car to the police station. At the station the car was searched and the contents inventoried. It was during this search that the cannabis was found. Defendant did not consent to the search.

In the present case there was no showing in the...

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5 cases
  • People v. Krezen
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 30 Diciembre 1986
    ...electronic equipment visible in the vehicle did not justify impoundment when the vehicle was parked in a private lot. In Gunn v. State, 336 So.2d 687, 689 (Fla.App.1976), a Florida Appeals court said that even where there is a possibility that a vehicle will be damaged, a driver should be a......
  • Purifoy v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • 18 Mayo 1978
    ...(Fla. 1st DCA 1977).2 Pope v. State, 268 So.2d 173 (Fla. 2d DCA 1972); Samet v. State, 284 So.2d 450 (Fla. 3d DCA 1973); Gunn v. State, 336 So.2d 687 (Fla. 4th DCA 1976).3 Fotianos v. State, 329 So.2d 397 (Fla. 1st DCA 1976).4 Art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla.Const.5 This expert's view was that the "......
  • Wright v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 17 Noviembre 1977
    ...691 (Fla.1939); Watson v. Stone, 148 Fla. 516, 4 So.2d 700 (1941); Newman v. State, 174 So.2d 479 (Fla.2nd DCA 1965).4 Gunn v. State, 336 So.2d 687 (Fla.4th DCA 1976); Samet v. State, 284 So.2d 450 (Fla.3rd DCA 1973); and Pope v. State, 268 So.2d 173 (Fla.2nd DCA 1972), cert disch. 283 So.2......
  • Morton v. State, 5 Div. 713
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 20 Marzo 1984
    ...have it impounded. This presents no problems to police if the driver assumes responsibility for any damage. In the case of Gunn v. State, 336 So.2d 687 (Fla.App.1976), the defendant, after arrest, asked the officer to allow him to call his mother so she could come get the car. The court "........
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