State v. Kindle, No. 5D00-2020.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtSAWAYA, J.
Citation782 So.2d 971
PartiesSTATE of Florida, Appellant, v. Robert Earl KINDLE, Appellee.
Decision Date12 April 2001
Docket NumberNo. 5D00-2020.

782 So.2d 971

STATE of Florida, Appellant,
v.
Robert Earl KINDLE, Appellee

No. 5D00-2020.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.

April 12, 2001.


782 So.2d 972
Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Pamela J. Koller, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellant

James B. Gibson, Public Defender, and Lyle Hitchens, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

SAWAYA, J.

The State appeals the order of the trial court granting Robert E. Kindle's (Kindle) motion to suppress evidence. The State contends that the trial court erred when it ruled that the police did not have authority to request consent to search Kindle's vehicle after the conclusion of a traffic stop. We agree and reverse.

Officer Billy Rhodes (Rhodes) of the West Melbourne Police Department effected a traffic stop after observing Kindle's vehicle pulling a trailer which had no taillights or license plate. After issuing a citation, Rhodes asked Kindle, who was standing outside the vehicle, for permission to search the vehicle. Kindle consented to the search and thereafter Rhodes directed Sergeant Mark Thompson (Thompson), who had arrived for "officer protection," to conduct the search. Thompson discovered a prescription bottle that contained twenty white pills in the vehicle. The Physician's Desk Reference indicated that the pills were hydrocodone. Kindle was arrested and charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance in violation of section 893.13(6)(a), Florida Statutes (1999).

Kindle filed a motion to suppress in which he alleged that the detention and arrest were illegal and that he did not validly consent to the search. At the suppression hearing, Rhodes described the events which led to Kindle's eventual arrest

782 So.2d 973
Moreover, he testified that the search of Kindle's vehicle resulted from Kindle's voluntary, expressed consent.1

After hearing testimony and argument on the motion, the trial court concluded: 1) the original stop was legal and the original detention for the purposes of issuing a citation for having no tag or taillights on the trailer was wholly justified; 2) after issuance of the citation, consent was requested of Kindle to search his vehicle and he freely gave his consent; 3) the time for the overall stop, including the search of the vehicle, was reasonable under the circumstances; and 4) there was no evidence or suspicion of criminal activity.

Relying on Gilchrist v. State, 757 So.2d 582 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000), the trial court granted the motion to suppress finding that the consent to search was invalid because the traffic stop lasted longer than the time necessary to write the traffic citation and the officer did not have reasonable suspicion based on articulable facts that criminal activity was afoot to justify a detention of Kindle beyond that period.

A trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress often involves mixed questions of fact and law. Lester v. State, 754 So.2d 746 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000); Hines v. State, 737 So.2d 1182 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999). The standard of review we must apply to the findings of fact is whether competent, substantial evidence supports the findings. See Hines. We must construe all the evidence, and reasonable inferences therefrom, in a manner most favorable to sustaining the trial court's ruling. See 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). The trial court's application of the law to the facts is reviewed de novo. Hines. The issue in this case is whether the stop was legal and whether Kindle consented to the search. We undertake to resolve this issue pursuant to these standards.

The courts generally agree that during a valid traffic stop, a law enforcement officer may ask the driver of the vehicle for consent to search, and if it is freely and voluntarily given, illegal narcotics seized incident to that search will generally be shielded from suppression. See Gomez v. State, 748 So.2d 352 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999), rev. dismissed, 762 So.2d 916 (Fla.2000); State v. Parrish, 731 So.2d 101 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999); State v. Holland, 680 So.2d 1041 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996); State v. Cromatie, 668 So.2d 1075 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996); see also Castro v. State, 755 So.2d 657 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999). But if the stop is illegal, consent to search thereafter given is generally considered invalid. See, e.g., Crooks v. State, 710 So.2d 1041 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998); Jordan v. State, 707 So.2d 338 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998), rev. dismissed, 717 So.2d 538 (Fla.1998). Thus we must first determine whether the stop was valid.

An officer's stop of an automobile is legal when the officer has probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred. Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 135 L.Ed.2d 89 (1996); Gomez, 748 So.2d at 352 ("Regardless of the individual officer's motivation, the traffic stop was lawful because the officer had probable cause to believe that the defendant had violated the traffic code by driving a vehicle with an expired temporary tag."); Scott v. State, 710 So.2d 1378 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998). Here Rhodes

782 So.2d 974
testified without dispute that the trailer's taillights were inoperative and that the trailer did not have a license plate. Section 316.610, Florida Statutes (1999) provides that it is a violation to drive a vehicle, or for the owner to allow his...

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34 practice notes
  • Hatcher v. State, No. 5D02-345.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 3, 2003
    ...of a traffic infraction gives the police the right to stop a vehicle and issue the offending driver a citation. See State v. Kindle, 782 So.2d 971 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001); E.H. v. State, 593 So.2d 243, 244 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991) ("A non-criminal traffic violation justified the temporary detention ......
  • DBP v. State, No. 5D09-2877.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 19, 2010
    ...So.2d 404 (Fla. 5th DCA), review denied, 935 So.2d 1220 (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, 7......
  • Leach v. State, No. 5D06-1256.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 8, 2007
    ...followed. Appellate review of a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress presents mixed questions of law and fact. State v. Kindle, 782 So.2d 971, 973 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). A trial court's factual findings are reviewed to determine if they are supported by competent, substantial evidence......
  • Dewberry v. State, No. 5D04-871.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 24, 2005
    ...questions of law and fact are often involved in appellate review of a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress. State v. Kindle, 782 So.2d 971 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). The standard of review to be applied to the factual findings of the trial court is whether competent, substantial evidence ......
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34 cases
  • Hatcher v. State, No. 5D02-345.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 3, 2003
    ...of a traffic infraction gives the police the right to stop a vehicle and issue the offending driver a citation. See State v. Kindle, 782 So.2d 971 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001); E.H. v. State, 593 So.2d 243, 244 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991) ("A non-criminal traffic violation justified the temporary detention ......
  • DBP v. State, No. 5D09-2877.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 19, 2010
    ...So.2d 404 (Fla. 5th DCA), review denied, 935 So.2d 1220 (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, 7......
  • Leach v. State, No. 5D06-1256.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 8, 2007
    ...followed. Appellate review of a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress presents mixed questions of law and fact. State v. Kindle, 782 So.2d 971, 973 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). A trial court's factual findings are reviewed to determine if they are supported by competent, substantial evidence......
  • Dewberry v. State, No. 5D04-871.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 24, 2005
    ...questions of law and fact are often involved in appellate review of a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress. State v. Kindle, 782 So.2d 971 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). The standard of review to be applied to the factual findings of the trial court is whether competent, substantial evidence ......
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