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J.S. v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

July 31, 2019

J.S., 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 Hillsborough County; Michael J. Scionti, Judge.

          Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Daniel Muller, Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Kaylee D. Tatman, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

          VILLANTI, Judge.

         J.S. seeks review of the disposition order that withheld adjudication on a charge of grand theft firearm and sentenced him to a term of probation not to exceed his nineteenth birthday. Because the trial court failed to hold a sufficient Richardson[1]hearing when a potential discovery violation by the State was brought to its attention, we reverse and remand for a new adjudicatory hearing.

         Overnight between November 4 and 5, 2017, someone broke into a pickup truck that was parked at a residence near Bell Shoals Road in Brandon and stole two rifles and a pistol from inside. The ensuing police investigation led to the arrest of J.S. and three codefendants on charges of burglary and grand theft firearm.

         Before the start of the adjudicatory hearing, the State had not disclosed to J.S. any witness whose testimony would place him near the scene of the burglary and theft or who would place any of the stolen firearms in his possession. Instead, the only identified lay witness-Sacory Rodriguez-had given a statement to the police indicating that he saw the stolen firearms only after they were brought to his house and abandoned there. At the adjudicatory hearing, however, Rodriguez testified that he picked up J.S. and his codefendants on Bell Shoals Road near the scene of the burglary and that when he did so J.S. was carrying one of the stolen rifles.

         Based on the fact that Rodriguez's testimony materially differed from his statement provided by the State in discovery, J.S. requested a Richardson hearing. In response, the trial court asked whether Rodriguez had been identified as a witness by the State and whether defense counsel had deposed him. When defense counsel indicated that Rodriguez had been identified but had not been deposed, the trial court denied the request for a further hearing. The trial court persisted in this ruling even after defense counsel advised that the State had not disclosed that Rodriguez's testimony at trial would differ from his earlier statement to police and that J.S.'s trial preparation would have been different had he known of this change by Rodriguez.

         At the conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing, the court found J.S. guilty of one count of grand theft firearm based on his possession of recently stolen property. It withheld adjudication and, as part of the sentence, imposed a variety of costs. J.S. now appeals the determination of guilt, as well as two of the costs imposed.

         I. Richardson Violation

         J.S. first contends that the trial court erred by refusing to hold a full Richardson hearing when it was discovered that the State had failed to inform J.S. that Rodriguez would provide testimony at trial different from that provided in his statement to the police. This contention is correct.

Under Richardson [v. State, 246 So.2d 771 (Fla. 1971), ] when the State violates a discovery rule, the trial court has discretion to determine whether the violation resulted in harm or prejudice to the defendant, but this discretion can be properly exercised only after adequate inquiry into all the surrounding circumstances. State v. Hall, 509 So.2d 1093 (Fla. 1987). In making such an inquiry, the trial judge must first determine whether a discovery violation occurred. If a violation is found, the court must assess whether the State's discovery violation was inadvertent or willful, whether the violation was trivial or substantial, and most importantly, what affect it had on the defendant's ability to prepare for trial. Id.

Sinclair v. State, 657 So.2d 1138, 1140 (Fla. 1995). If the court determines that no discovery violation has occurred, it need not proceed with the other steps, and that is apparently what the trial court determined in this case. However, the information ...


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