final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Union County. David P.
Thomas, Public Defender, and Laurel Cornell Niles, Assistant
Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Daniel R. Krumbholz,
Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Michael Clayton, appeals his convictions and sentences for
manufacturing cannabis, a third-degree felony, and possession
of drug paraphernalia, a first-degree misdemeanor.
§§ 893.13(1)(a)2., 893.147(1), Fla. Stat. Clayton
argues that the trial court erred in denying his suppression
motion. Because we find that the trial court erred in its
application of the inevitable discovery doctrine and because
Clayton reserved this matter as dispositive in his plea
agreement, we reverse and vacate Clayton's judgment and
the fall of 2015, Union County Sheriff's Office Deputy
John Whitehead received information from an anonymous source
that Clayton was growing marijuana inside his residence.
Deputy Whitehead then received information from the Clay
Electric Cooperative regarding the power usage in
Clayton's home, which revealed that the power usage of
Clayton's home was four times higher than the normal
usage of a home of comparable size. Additionally, Deputy
Whitehead had the power usage documents reviewed by
individuals at the Drug Enforcement Agency. Deputy Whitehead
concluded that Clayton was cultivating marijuana inside his
Whitehead then went with others to Clayton's home to
conduct a "knock and talk" investigation. Deputy
Whitehead and his colleagues contacted Clayton outside in the
yard, and obtained consent from Clayton to search the home.
Clayton also signed a consent to search form. Afterwards,
Clayton admitted to cultivating marijuana in his home and
that he was the only individual residing in the residence.
The subsequent search of Clayton's residence revealed two
rooms set up with lighting and marijuana plants growing in
various containers. Several electrical tools were also found,
which were used to run fans and lighting and other aspects of
indoor marijuana cultivation.
the State charged Clayton with manufacturing and possession,
Clayton moved to suppress the evidence found in the search on
the ground that his consent to search was coerced. During the
suppression hearing, Deputy Whitehead testified that he
advised Clayton of the probable cause that he developed that
Clayton was growing marijuana in his home. Regarding
Clayton's consent to search, Deputy Whitehead testified
Initially, I just requested consent to search the residence,
I told him, you know, based off the facts before us, I do
believe that if we presented this to a judge that there would
be enough probable cause for a judge to sign it; however,
obviously, that would have to be taken to the state attorney
and in the judge's hand. And told him if he cooperated
with us, we'd cooperate with him and that I could assure
him that on this date, this event, that he would not go to
jail unless, like I usually explain to everybody, unless I
get inside and find dead bodies or something like that, then,
you know, he would be - - charges would be filed and he would
later be arrested on a warrant.
Whitehead also testified that Clayton was not free to leave
during their encounter, and that no attempt was ever made to
secure a search warrant because Clayton consented to the
search. For his part, Clayton testified that law enforcement
made it seem like he was going to be arrested if he did not
consent to the search of his home.
trial court denied the motion to suppress. The trial court
concluded that Clayton's consent was coerced,
but found that the inevitable discovery doctrine applied
because "law enforcement had the probable cause to
procure a search warrant, and were in the process of an
active investigation into the existence of a cannabis
cultivation operation at [Clayton]'s home." Clayton
then pled to the charges, reserving his right to appeal the