final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
of a non-final order from the Circuit Court for the
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Michael J.
Orlando, Judge; L.T. Case No. 16-2136CJ10A.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and James J. Carney,
Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Virginia Murphy, Assistant
Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
Court has jurisdiction over this appeal of the trial
court's order granting C.J.'s motion to suppress
cannabis found after what he contends was an illegal search.
Fla. R. App. P. 9.145(c)(1)(B). We agree with the State that
the search in this case was within the limits of the Fourth
Amendment and therefore reverse and remand for continued
proceedings in which the cannabis is not suppressed on this
enforcement officer observed the allegedly delinquent child,
C.J., riding his bicycle shortly after 9:00 p.m. Because the
bicycle lacked the required light, the officer stopped C.J.
to cite him for this infraction. While performing a routine
ID check on C.J., the officer was alerted to the fact that
C.J. was on probation and had a curfew of 6:00 p.m. The
officer did not ask C.J. if he had any court-authorized
excuse for being out past his curfew, nor did C.J. volunteer
such information. There was also
nothing immediately obvious about C.J. that might have
suggested a legitimate excuse (such as, for example, a work
uniform which might have indicated that C.J.'s shift had
just ended). After confirming C.J.'s probationary status
over the phone, the officer placed C.J. under arrest for the
curfew violation. During a customary pat-down as part of the
arrest, the officer located the cannabis at issue in this
moved to suppress the cannabis, arguing that his arrest for
violation of probation was illegal. His argument was essentially that the
officer was required to engage in a reasonable investigation
of possible excuses for C.J.'s breaking of his curfew,
and that the officer did not do so. Without doing so,
according to C.J., the officer lacked probable cause for the
arrest. The trial court agreed with this argument, stating
that it "believe[d] [the officer] was under a
responsibility to question [C.J.] further." Holding that
the failure to further question C.J. made the arrest invalid,
the trial court granted C.J.'s motion to suppress. The
motion to suppress, we review the trial court's legal
conclusions de novo but defer to the trial court on issues of
fact. M.J. v. State, 121 So.3d 1151, 1154 (Fla. 4th
officer may arrest a child if that officer "has probable
cause to believe that a child is in violation of the
conditions of the child's probation." §
985.101(1)(d), Fla. Stat. (2016). "The test for probable
cause is whether the [totality of the] facts and
circumstances within an officer's knowledge are
sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to
believe that [it is more likely than not that] an offense has
been committed." Curtis v. State, 748 So.2d
370, 374 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) (en banc); accord State v.
Blaylock, 76 So.3d 13, 14 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) (using the
language inserted into the quotation). Probable cause does
not require absolute certitude, but is more than bare
true that "[a] police officer may not close his or her
eyes to facts that would help clarify the circumstances of an
arrest." City of St. Petersburg v. Austrino,
898 So.2d 955, 959 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005) (quoting BeVier v.
Hucal, 806 F.2d 123, 128 (7th Cir. 1986)). However, the
theoretical possibility that something observed and believed
to be criminal might be innocent does not destroy probable
cause. Blaylock, 76 So.3d at 14-15; see also
State v. Maya, 529 So.2d 1282, 1287 n.7 (Fla. 3d DCA
1988) ("[T]he determination of probable cause does not
turn on whether an innocent explanation can possibly be
conjured up from what are obviously incriminating
circumstances. Rather, it is dependent on what a realistic
view of the facts justifies or requires."). Furthermore,
although an officer, in establishing probable cause, "is
required to conduct a reasonable investigation, . .
. the officer does not have to take every conceivable step to
eliminate the possibility of convicting an innocent
person." City of Clearwater v. Williamson, 938
So.2d 985, 990 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006).
time he placed C.J. under arrest, the officer was aware that
C.J. was on probation, out three hours past his curfew, and
did not appear to be within any possible exception to the
curfew requirement (again, for example, by being in a work
uniform). Taking the totality of these facts and
circumstances into account, a "person of reasonable
caution" could believe that it was more likely than not
that C.J. was in violation of his probation. Curtis,
748 So.2d at 374. This case does not involve a claim of
innocence by C.J. which the officer may have had to
investigate, like in Austrino, and instead is more
like Maya and Williamson, where there may
have been an innocent explanation, but the criminal
likelihood was still apparent in light of the reasonable
investigation performed. ...