McMaster v. State, No. 5D00-1672.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtSAWAYA, J.
Citation780 So.2d 1026
PartiesDennis McMASTER, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date30 March 2001
Docket NumberNo. 5D00-1672.

780 So.2d 1026

Dennis McMASTER, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee

No. 5D00-1672.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.

March 30, 2001.


780 So.2d 1027
James B. Gibson, Public Defender, and Leonard R. Ross, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Anthony J. Golden, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

SAWAYA, J.

Dennis McMaster appeals the order placing him on probation and sentencing him to time served following his plea of nolo contendere to charges of possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He had previously filed a motion to suppress and the State and McMaster stipulated that the order denying that motion was dispositive of the case. McMaster argues that it was error to deny the motion to suppress because the police officers lacked reasonable suspicion to stop his car and seize the drugs and paraphernalia from his possession. We agree and reverse.

Factual Background

The only testimony at the suppression hearing came from the two officers who stopped McMaster. Officer McLean testified that he and Corporal Bennett were performing a general security patrol in a high crime area surrounding an abandoned school when they saw headlights coming out from the back of the building. They followed the car onto Southwest Fifth Street in Ocala and initiated a stop. McMaster, the only occupant of the car, told the officers that he was looking for a prostitute. Corporal Bennett called for a canine unit while Officer McLean took information from McMaster. Officer McLean further testified that the dog alerted on the driver's side door, at which point McMaster confessed to having cocaine on the dash.

Corporal Bennett testified that the abandoned building is a location known for drug and prostitution activity and that the police routinely check the area. At approximately 11:00 p.m., he and Officer McLean drove around the building and saw a vehicle drive away. They followed it for half a block before stopping it. In his deposition, Corporal Bennett stated that he had not observed the car long enough to determine whether he could charge the occupant with loitering and prowling. Corporal Bennett admitted that McMaster had not committed any traffic infractions. When McMaster's first explanation for his presence behind the building did not satisfy the officers, McMaster then explained that he had been behind the building with a prostitute who had jumped out of the car

780 So.2d 1028
when she saw the police car. There was no testimony that the officers saw anyone flee the car

The trial court denied the suppression motion "under the circumstances ... and based on the history of the area."

Standard Of Review And The Issue To Be Resolved

A trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress comes to this court clothed with a presumption of correctness, and we must interpret the evidence and reasonable inferences in a manner most favorable to affirming that decision. San Martin v. State, 717 So.2d 462, 469 (Fla.1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1071, 119 S.Ct. 1468, 143 L.Ed.2d 553 (1999); Warren v. State, 701 So.2d 404 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997). Appellate review of a motion to suppress can present mixed questions of law and fact. Lester v. State, 754 So.2d 746 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000). The findings of fact made by the trial court are reviewed pursuant to the substantial competent evidence standard. Ikner v. State, 756 So.2d 1116 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000); Warren. The trial court's application of the law is reviewed pursuant to the de novo standard. Ikner; State v. Ramos, 755 So.2d 836 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000); Warren. Thus we proceed to review the findings of fact and the trial court's application of the law to the facts pursuant to these standards.

The issue presented is whether the law enforcement officers, based on the facts and circumstances, had a reasonable suspicion to stop McMaster's vehicle. If they did not, then the drugs they recovered from McMaster's vehicle are the fruit of an illegal stop and must be suppressed.

Reasonable Suspicion To Stop The Vehicle

We begin our analysis of the issue before us with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and article 1, section 12 of the Florida Constitution which guarantee to all citizens the right to be protected from unreasonable seizure. The constitutional jurisprudence that has sprung from this protected right recognizes three levels of encounters that law enforcement may have with citizens: 1) consensual encounters, during which the citizen remains free to leave at will, where a citizen may either voluntarily comply with a police officer's request or simply choose to ignore it; 2) an investigatory stop based on reasonable suspicion; and 3) an arrest supported by probable cause that a crime has been or is being committed. State v. Roux, 702 So.2d 240 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997) (citing Popple v. State, 626 So.2d 185 (Fla.1993)).

We are here concerned with an investigatory stop and, based on the facts and circumstances of this case, we must remain mindful of the general rule that the temporary detention of an individual during the stop of an automobile by a law enforcement officer, even if for a brief period and limited purpose, constitutes a seizure and invokes Fourth Amendment protections. Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979); State v. Jones, 483 So.2d 433 (Fla.1986); Sapp v. State, 763 So.2d 1257 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000).

Section 901.151(2), Florida Statutes, provides that a police officer may reasonably detain a citizen...

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30 practice notes
  • Ortiz v. State, No. 5D08-1653.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 13, 2009
    ...of the law to the factual findings is de novo. Tyson v. State, 922 So.2d 338, 339 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) (citing McMaster v. State, 780 So.2d 1026, 1028 (Fla. 5th DCA A warrantless search of a home is initially presumed to be unreasonable, and thus, impermissible under the Fourth Amendment. Co......
  • Ortiz v. State, Case No. 5D08-1653 (Fla. App. 4/24/2009), Case No. 5D08-1653.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 24, 2009
    ...of the law to the factual findings is de novo. Tyson v. State, 922 So. 2d 338, 339 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) (citing McMaster v. State, 780 So. 2d 1026, 1028 (Fla. 5th DCA Page 5 A warrantless search of a home is per se unreasonable, and thus, unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. Coolidge......
  • DBP v. State, No. 5D09-2877.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 19, 2010
    ...(Fla.2006); Young v. State, 803 So.2d 880 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002); State v. Kindle, 782 So.2d 971 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001); McMaster v. State, 780 So.2d 1026, 1027 (Fla. 5th DCA The Florida stop and frisk law, as interpreted by J.L. v. State, 727 So.2d 204 (Fla.1998), affirmed, 529 U.S. 266, 120 S.C......
  • Dewberry v. State, No. 5D04-871.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 24, 2005
    ...court's application of the law to the facts, however, is reviewed de novo. Connor v. State, 803 So.2d 598 (Fla.2001); McMaster [v. State, 780 So.2d 1026 (Fla. 5th DCA 905 So.2d 966 Young, 803 So.2d at 882. Application of this standard leads us to conclude that the State is correct, and we w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • Ortiz v. State, No. 5D08-1653.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 13, 2009
    ...of the law to the factual findings is de novo. Tyson v. State, 922 So.2d 338, 339 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) (citing McMaster v. State, 780 So.2d 1026, 1028 (Fla. 5th DCA A warrantless search of a home is initially presumed to be unreasonable, and thus, impermissible under the Fourth Amendment. Co......
  • Ortiz v. State, Case No. 5D08-1653 (Fla. App. 4/24/2009), Case No. 5D08-1653.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 24, 2009
    ...of the law to the factual findings is de novo. Tyson v. State, 922 So. 2d 338, 339 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) (citing McMaster v. State, 780 So. 2d 1026, 1028 (Fla. 5th DCA Page 5 A warrantless search of a home is per se unreasonable, and thus, unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. Coolidge......
  • DBP v. State, No. 5D09-2877.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 19, 2010
    ...(Fla.2006); Young v. State, 803 So.2d 880 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002); State v. Kindle, 782 So.2d 971 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001); McMaster v. State, 780 So.2d 1026, 1027 (Fla. 5th DCA The Florida stop and frisk law, as interpreted by J.L. v. State, 727 So.2d 204 (Fla.1998), affirmed, 529 U.S. 266, 120 S.C......
  • Dewberry v. State, No. 5D04-871.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 24, 2005
    ...court's application of the law to the facts, however, is reviewed de novo. Connor v. State, 803 So.2d 598 (Fla.2001); McMaster [v. State, 780 So.2d 1026 (Fla. 5th DCA 905 So.2d 966 Young, 803 So.2d at 882. Application of this standard leads us to conclude that the State is correct, and we w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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