FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Manatee County; Hunter W. Carroll,
L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Cynthia J. Dodge,
Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Jeffrey H.
Siegal, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.
Shannon appeals his drug convictions, specifically
challenging the denial of his dispositive motion to suppress.
After his motion was denied, he entered into a negotiated
plea agreement with the State, reserving his right to appeal
the denial of the motion. He also challenges his judgment and
sentence on count five, claiming that he did not enter a plea
to that count. We agree that the trial court erred in
denying his motion to suppress and accordingly reverse his
convictions, thus mooting his second issue on appeal.
multicount information against three defendants, Shannon was
charged with one count of trafficking in illegal drugs, four
through fourteen grams; one count of possession of a
controlled substance; one count of driving with a suspended
or revoked license; and one count of possession of drug
paraphernalia. Shannon filed a motion to suppress physical
evidence seized during a search of his vehicle immediately
prior to his arrest, arguing that his vehicle was not within
the curtilage of the motel rooms that were the subject of the
search warrants. He argued that the parking space did not
meet the definition of curtilage set forth in United
States v. Dunn, 480 U.S. 294 (1987).
hearing on the motion to suppress, law enforcement officers
with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office testified that
they had been conducting surveillance of a motel in
Bradenton, specifically rooms 120, 121, and 124. On two
different dates, the officers sent a confidential informant
into room 121, and the informant purchased heroin on both
occasions. On a third occasion, October 9, 2015, the
informant purchased heroin from room 124. On that date, law
enforcement observed individuals going from room 120 to room
124, and they recognized two suspected drug dealers, neither
of which were Shannon. The officers did not observe Shannon
during their surveillance; he was not a target of the
investigation, and he was not named in the warrant. The CI
had not identified Shannon as the person who sold him drugs.
enforcement had obtained search warrants that authorized the
search of rooms 120, 121, and 124 of the motel, "its
curtilage, any vehicles located within the curtilage, and any
or all persons found therein, who [were] reasonably believed
to be involved in the crime or crimes, for any and all
controlled substances." Law enforcement executed the
search warrants around 6:30 p.m. on October 9th. Members of
the SWAT team arrived at the motel in an armored vehicle, and
other officers arrived in their vehicles. The occupants of
rooms 120, 121, and 124 were alerted that law enforcement
were on their way, and the occupants began to exit the rooms
and scatter. Shannon exited room 124 and traveled a few feet
to his car, which was parked in the parking space in front of
room 120. He carried something near his abdomen. He entered
his car and tried to leave but was blocked in at the entrance
by a law enforcement vehicle. He then reversed and drove
around to the back of the motel, where he was again blocked
in by law enforcement. Shannon exited his car with his hands
up, lay on the ground, and threw his keys to the side toward
the officers. After officers were informed that Shannon was
observed leaving the motel room, Shannon's car was
searched. In the passenger side of the car, an officer
discovered a blue coffee can with a false bottom containing
State argued that Shannon's car was parked in the
curtilage of the motel rooms and that the search of his car
was therefore authorized by the warrants.
State also argued that law enforcement was permitted to
search Shannon because he was leaving the location where a
search warrant was being executed. The defense argued that
the parking space did not meet the definition of curtilage.
The trial court found that when Shannon exited room 120, it
took him "about two-and-a-half, three seconds" to
reach his vehicle parked in front of room 124 and that the
hood of Shannon's vehicle was about three feet from the
door of room 120. The trial court concluded that as a matter
of law, a motel may have a curtilage and that in this case,
Shannon's vehicle was in the curtilage of rooms 120, 121,
and 124. The trial court found that even if the vehicle had
left the curtilage, it had not left the motel and that under
Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981), law
enforcement was permitted to search Shannon's vehicle.
The trial court denied his motion to suppress.
then entered into a plea agreement with the State, whereby he
agreed to plead no contest to the charges in counts three,
six, and seven in exchange for a sentence of 108 months in
prison on count three with a three-year minimum mandatory
term. The parties agreed, and the trial court found, that the
motion to suppress was dispositive, and Shannon reserved his
right to appeal the denial of the motion as part of his plea
appeal, Shannon contends that the trial court erred in
denying his motion to suppress because his vehicle was not in
the curtilage of the motel rooms and therefore was not
subject to search pursuant to the terms of the search
warrants. He claims that the parking space in which his car
was parked did not qualify as a curtilage under the
definition set forth in Dunn.
review de novo the trial court's ruling that the parking
space constituted a curtilage because the issue involves a
legal conclusion. See State v. K.S., 28 So.3d 985,
987 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) ("The trial court's
'determination of historical facts enjoys a presumption
of correctness and is subject to reversal only if not
supported by competent, substantial evidence in the record.
However, the circuit court's determinations on mixed
questions of law and fact and ...