final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Maria De
Jesus Santovenia, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 16-1999-B
J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Jeffrey Paul DeSousa,
Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Kayla H. McNab, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
SUAREZ, LAGOA, and SCALES, JJ.
a juvenile, appeals from the trial court's order
withholding adjudication of delinquency and placing him on
probation for grand theft of a motor vehicle. Because the
State failed to present sufficient evidence that C.T. knew
the car he was driving was stolen, we reverse.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
August 18, 2016, the State filed a petition for delinquency
charging C.T. with grand theft of a motor vehicle in
violation of section 812.014(2)(c)6, Florida Statutes (2016),
for an incident that occurred on July 30, 2016. An
adjudicatory hearing was held on October 26, 2016.
adjudicatory hearing, the only issue before the trial court
was whether C.T. knew that the car he was driving was stolen
when stopped by the police. Because the case against C.T. was
entirely circumstantial, the State relied upon the statutory
inference of guilty knowledge provided by section 812.022(2),
Florida Statutes (2016), which states that "proof of
possession of property recently stolen, unless satisfactorily
explained, gives rise to an inference that the person in
possession of the property knew or should have known that the
property had been stolen."
adjudicatory hearing, the State presented testimony from the
victim, Hector Alvarez. Alvarez testified that his vehicle
was stolen on the evening of July 27, 2016. At 5 a.m. on July
30, while driving his girlfriend to work, Alvarez saw his car
approximately four to six miles from where it was stolen.
Alvarez followed the car and called the police. The police
subsequently stopped the car. Alvarez testified that when the
police officers approached the car, the driver did not alter
his speed or attempt to flee. One of the officers at the
traffic stop, Officer Hernandez, testified that C.T. was the
driver of the car. Defense counsel conceded that the car
stopped by the police was Alvarez's car and that it was
stolen on the night of July 27. Alvarez testified that when
he retrieved his car, it had not been physically altered or
damaged in any way.
the State's case, the defense moved for judgment of
dismissal, which the trial court denied.
also testified at the hearing. C.T. denied stealing
Alvarez's car or knowing that it was stolen. C.T.
testified that on the night at issue he got the key to the
car from his friend, Deandre, while at Deandre's house.
Deandre had, in turn, been given the key from his friend, a
person named Jacob. Jacob used to sell cars, "[s]o he
told us to try it out, so we tried it out." On cross
examination, C.T. testified that he had known Deandre for
about three years, and that Deandre did not have a car before
that night. C.T. admitted that he did not know if Jacob
actually gave Deandre permission to drive the car, but that
he trusted Deandre when he gave him the keys to the car and
said, "I just go with what he told me." Deandre
suggested that the two take the car to meet up with some
girls and Deandre asked C.T. to drive because he was the
better driver. Deandre was in the car with C.T. when the
police stopped the car.
conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing, defense counsel
argued that C.T. was entitled to a judgment of dismissal
because C.T. gave a patently reasonable explanation for his
possession of the car-he got it from his friend, Deandre, who
told him a friend of his who use to sell cars wanted them to
"try it out." Moreover, nothing about the car's
physical condition indicated to C.T. that it had been stolen.
The State argued that C.T.'s explanation was unreasonable
given his testimony that Deandre never ...