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District Court Of Appeal Holds Probable Cause For Fleeing & Eluding Developed During Illegal Stop Is

By Expert Author: Henry Rundquist

In the matter State v Kirer the district court of appeal overturned the circuit court's order granting defendant's motion to suppress evidence holding that the deputy in this matter had sufficient probable cause to stop defendant's vehicle for the criminal offense of fleeing or attempting to evade a law enforcement officer due to the fact that defendant did not stop despite the deputy's use of his siren, emergency lights, along with numerous commands to stop announced through the deputy's P.A. system.

In this instance, a deputy sheriff was called to an address based on an anonymous call reporting a "suspicious incident" regarding individuals located inside an abandoned building. Once the police officer arrived, the deputy saw defendant in close proximity to a car parked in the vacant house's driveway. The officer turned on his overhead lights and pointed his lights on defendant's car. The deputy's patrol vehicle was not preventing defendant from leaving, & that was when the defendant backed out & began to drive. The deputy pursued the defendant. The officer activated on his siren, kept his cruiser's lights on, and on multiple occasions directed defendant to stop over his vehicle's P.A. system. Despite the siren, flashing lights, & numerous orders, defendant continued driving and turned the car five times while the deputy was in pursuit of his vehicle one or two car lengths behind. Neither the defendant nor the deputy went in excess of approximately 10 mph. The defendant moved to suppress his identification, contending that the post-stop observation of defendant was a result of an improper stop. The prosecution contended that the defendant's conduct, although not constituting reasonable suspicion for a burglary, did constitute the crime of fleeing or attempting to elude. The lower court granted defendant's motion to suppress. The 4th District Court of Appeal found that if the defendant remained in the driveway or pulled over once the officer activated his lights and siren & utilized the P.A. system, there wouldn't be sufficient evidence to justify the traffic stop. In this matter, the appellate court ruled that the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion to suppress where the deputy did have probable cause to believe that defendant committed the crime of fleeing or attempting to elude in violation of Florida Statute 316.1935(1), regardless of whether probable cause initially justified the stop of the defendant. The district court of appeal reversed the order of the trial court & remanded for proceedings consistent with the opinion of the court.

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