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J.J.J. v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

December 27, 2017

J.J.J., Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

          NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Manatee County; Scott M. Brownell, Judge.

          Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Amanda V. Isaacs, Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Susan M. Shanahan, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.

          PER CURIAM.

         J.J.J. appeals the juvenile court's disposition order withholding adjudication but finding that she committed the delinquent act of possession of a firearm by a minor. See § 790.22(3), (5), Fla. Stat. (2014). The State concedes that the corpus delicti of the charge consisted solely of inadmissible evidence. We agree and reverse because without this evidence J.J.J. was entitled to a dismissal.

         At the adjudicatory hearing, the State called a single witness, Officer Chris Rossman. He testified that he was dispatched to the scene of a hit-and-run accident. Upon his arrival, he observed that one of the vehicles was unattended and contained two rifles wedged between the front seats and the center console.[1] When the officer learned that J.J.J.'s father owned the unattended vehicle, he proceeded to the father's nearby residence to question him.

         On direct examination, the officer testified that he asked J.J.J.'s father "if he knew where his vehicle was." The defense promptly objected that the officer's recitation of J.J.J.'s father's response would be hearsay. The court agreed but ruled that the officer could testify to what he did after speaking with J.J.J.'s father. The State then proceeded with questioning as follows:

STATE: So based on the things you heard from [J.J.J.'s father] what did you determine it was necessary to do at that point?
WITNESS: Locate [J.J.J.].
THE COURT: And why is it important for you to locate [J.J.J.]?
WITNESS: Based on the information that I obtained from [J.J.J.'s father] she would have been the --.

         Once again the defense objected, insisting that the officer's statement constituted inadmissible hearsay. The court overruled the objection, reasoning that the statement was "just explaining why [the officer] went to find [J.J.J.]. So he went to find [J.J.J.] based on statements from [J.J.J.'s father]."[2]

         The officer testified that he located J.J.J. several hours later. When the State inquired as to what J.J.J. told him during the subsequent interview, the defense once again objected, this time on the grounds of corpus delicti. Defense counsel argued that the State had presented no evidence, other than the previously admitted hearsay, of the crime of possession of a firearm by a minor. Once again the court overruled the objection. The officer then recounted J.J.J.'s admission to ...


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