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Canidate v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

February 14, 2018

MARCO CANIDATE, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Martin County; Lawrence Michael Mirman, Judge; L.T. Case No. 432016CF000115A.

          Andrew B. Greenlee of Andrew B. Greenlee, P.A., Sanford, and Greg Rosenfeld of the Law Offices of Greg Rosenfeld, P.A., West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Joseph D. Coronato, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          Kuntz, J.

         The Defendant appeals his conviction of fleeing a law enforcement officer at a high speed or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property under section 316.1935(3)(a), Florida Statutes (2016). The court sentenced him to sixty months state imprisonment. Because the State failed to establish a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, we reverse the conviction and sentence and remand for the entry of a judgment of conviction and sentence on the lesser included offense of fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer with sirens and lights activated under section 316.1935(2), Florida Statutes (2016).

         Background

         At trial, the State called a detective with the Martin County Sheriff's Office. On the day in question, the Detective was on Federal Highway preparing to turn onto Cove Road in a marked four-wheel sedan equipped with full lights and siren. He noticed a truck matching the description of a vehicle he was looking for and also noticed an equipment infraction on the truck. The truck cut across from a straight lane to a turn lane and continued northbound on Federal Highway.

         The Detective initially activated his light without sirens, at which point the Defendant pulled into the parking lot of a nearby bank. However, once the two vehicles pulled into the bank's winding parking lot, the Defendant accelerated. The Detective then activated his sirens as the Defendant exited the parking lot onto Cove Road, and allegedly began weaving through traffic. A Deputy in the area testified that he saw the truck slowly pull into the bank parking lot and accelerate. The Deputy testified that the truck "continued at a high rate of speed through the parking lot, " before pulling onto Cove Road where "there was absolutely traffic in the area." Notwithstanding the testimony regarding the high rate of speed, the Detective testified that neither car exceeded 40 miles per hour in an area where the posted speed limit was 35 miles per hour.

         Apparently unbeknownst to the Detective, during this time the Defendant called 911, expressing concern that he was being followed by a police officer for unknown reasons, and that he wanted to pull over in a safe and well-lit area.

         The Detective terminated the pursuit by engaging in a pursuit intervention technique. He was trained to place the front corner of his car's fender or quarter panel against the rear corner of the other vehicle, "effectively nudging it to where it loses control and spins around and stops." The Detective carried out this technique and arrested the Defendant.

         Ultimately, the Defendant was tried and convicted of the crime of "fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer with lights and siren activated with willful and wanton driving." During the trial, the court denied the Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal. It is that denial the Defendant now appeals.

         Analysis

         Our review of the court's denial of the Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal is de novo, and we consider all reasonable inferences from the evidence in the light most favorable to the State. Damoah v. State, 189 So.3d 316, 321 (Fla. 4th ...


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