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I.G. v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

April 18, 2018

I.G., a Juvenile, Appellant,
v.
The State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Maria de Jesus Santovenia, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 16-1019-A

          Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Billie Jan Goldstein, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Christina L. Dominguez, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Before ROTHENBERG, C.J., and FERNANDEZ, and LUCK, JJ.

          FERNANDEZ, J.

         I.G. appeals the trial court's order withholding adjudication of delinquency and placing I.G. on probation for loitering and prowling, under sections 856.021 and 777.011, Florida Statutes (2016). We affirm the trial court's order.

         After I.G. was charged under these statutes, the case went to an adjudicatory hearing. At the hearing, the State presented testimony from two police officers, Detective David Mata and Officer Lexus Guerrero. Detective Mata, from the City of Homestead Police Department, testified that on Monday, April 11, 2016, at approximately 11:30 p.m., he and his partner responded to a dispatch call in a gated community regarding two males looking into vehicles and pulling on door handles in a parking lot. The community is completely surrounded by fences and is accessible through gates that require a code for entry of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Detective Mata arrived on the scene and remained in his unmarked vehicle, observing I.G. and the other male, believing they might break into a vehicle.

         For approximately five minutes, while he was parked in the center of the parking lot, Detective Mata saw I.G. looking into three to four vehicles and pulling on the door handles of those vehicles. The detective observed I.G. and the other male walking between cars. Detective Mata testified, "when they were on the east side of the vehicle I could see them looking into the cars, but I couldn't see what they were doing. When they went to the west side of the vehicles I could see them because there was nothing obstructing me from seeing them pulling on door handles and looking in." Detective Mata noticed a male and a female on a cell phone looking at the two suspects and approaching I.G. Mata believed they were the witnesses that called 911 to report the incident. The detective decided to act in order to avoid any confrontation between I.G., the other male, and the witnesses. He instructed I.G. to stop, identified himself and his partner as police officers, and had his weapon drawn. Detective Mata and his partner asked I.G. and the male to lay on the ground and show them their hands. The suspects were then handcuffed. Detective Mata called for marked units to approach, briefed the officers when they arrived, and left the scene.

         Officer Lexus Guerrero testified that he responded as a backup officer, was briefed by the detectives, and spoke to a witness. Officer Guerrero asked I.G. what he was doing, and I.G. stated that he was going to a friend's house to smoke weed at a location approximately four blocks east and north of the community he was in. Officer Guerrero gave I.G. an opportunity to explain why he was in the community or whether he lived in the community, but I.G. could not give the officer any reason why he was there or how he entered the community. Officer Guerrero further testified that the area is known for a lot of motor vehicle burglaries and that I.G. was 14 years old at the time he was arrested. I.G. was then arrested and charged with loitering or prowling for his actions of looking into parked vehicles and pulling on door handles in violation of sections 856.021 and 777.011, Florida Statutes (2016).

         After the adjudicatory hearing, the trial court found I.G. delinquent, withheld adjudication, and sentenced him to probation. I.G. then appealed.

         I.G. argues that Detective Mata and his partner arrested him without first inquiring as to his identity or asking what he was doing, as required by section 856.021. The State contends that I.G. was not under arrest when the detectives interacted with him, but that he was detained for further investigation based on the observations made by Detective Mata and his partner. We agree with the State and affirm.

         Because this case involves a trial court's denial of a motion for judgment of dismissal in an adjudicatory hearing, the standard of review is de novo. C.W. v. State, 76 So.3d 1093, 1094 n. 1 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011). When moving for judgment of dismissal, the movant admits the facts in evidence, as well as every "conclusion favorable to the adverse party that a jury might fairly and reasonably infer from the evidence." A.P.R. v. State, 894 So.2d 282, 285 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (citations omitted). In addition, ...


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