FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
appeal from the Circuit Court for Leon County. Kevin J.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Thomas H. Duffy, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
W. Collins, Monticello, for Appellee.
what it accurately called "a highly unique factual
scenario, " the trial court suppressed evidence officers
found in Clarence Johnson's car. This is the State's
appeal. Finding no Fourth Amendment violation on the
particular facts we face, we reverse.
"the totality of the circumstances controls in cases
involving the Fourth Amendment, " State v.
Baez, 894 So.2d 115, 117 (Fla. 2004), we begin with a
detailed look at the facts.
officers went to Johnson's house to execute an arrest
warrant on charges not relevant here. Johnson was not home
when they arrived, but he pulled into his driveway just as
the officers were leaving. Before Johnson got out of his car,
one of the officers approached and told him the news.
Johnson's child was asleep in the car, and Johnson asked
if the officers could arrest him beyond the child's
sight. The officers accommodated that request, and Johnson
got out and walked behind the car. There, Johnson was placed
under arrest, handcuffed, and searched.
officer searching Johnson found an unbound bundle of
cash-some $1, 188-in Johnson's pocket. The officer
initially laid the cash on the trunk of Johnson's car but
then "dumped" it through Johnson's open
driver-side door onto the driver's seat, concerned the
cash might otherwise blow away.
long after, and while Johnson and the officers were still in
the driveway, Johnson's friend showed up to take care of
Johnson's child and property. An officer asked Johnson to
choose between entrusting the friend with the cash and
returning the cash to Johnson's pocket, where it would be
inventoried at the jail. Johnson chose the former, and an
officer reached into Johnson's still-open car door to
retrieve the cash. As he reached inside, the officer noticed
"just basically sitting there was a white powdery
substance" in a baggie. The officer recognized the
substance as cocaine and removed the baggie. The State
charged Johnson with possession, and Johnson moved to
suppress the evidence.
has not challenged the officers' authority to arrest him
or to search him pursuant to that arrest. His complaint is
with the officer's intrusion into his car to retrieve the
cash-an intrusion Johnson contends required a warrant or
probable cause. The trial court granted the motion to
suppress. It recounted the facts, concluded that the
"baggie was not in plain view, " and ultimately
determined that "this was a warrantless illegal search
appeal, the State does not argue that the officers had
authority to search Johnson's car for
evidence; its argument is that under
the circumstances, the officer's intrusion into the car
was to protect Johnson's property, meaning no warrant or
probable cause was required. Accordingly, the State argues
there was no Fourth Amendment violation. ...