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Strong v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

October 11, 2019

HENRY L. STRONG, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Volusia County, James R. Clayton, Judge.

          James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Kevin R. Holtz, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Nora Hutchinson Hall, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

          COHEN, J.

         Henry Strong appeals the denial of his motion to suppress and convictions of robbery with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and driving without a valid driver's license. We affirm.

         Law enforcement received a tip that Strong planned to rob a McDonald's using the informant's vehicle. The informant rented a car, solely in her name, and allowed law enforcement to attach a GPS tracking device to the vehicle. Strong borrowed the rental car, and law enforcement tracked Strong's movements via the GPS. The GPS tracking information placed Strong near a McDonald's in Volusia County, and shortly after, law enforcement received a 9-1-1 call reporting a robbery at that McDonald's. Law enforcement pulled Strong over, arrested him, and searched the rental car.

         Initially, Strong moved to suppress all evidence obtained in the rental car. In a renewed motion, Strong also moved to suppress all evidence obtained with the GPS. The trial court denied Strong's motions, finding that he lacked standing to challenge law enforcement's stop and search of the rental car and tracking of his movements because he was not listed on the rental agreement.

         On appeal, Strong argues that the trial court erred in denying his motions to suppress evidence related to the stop and search of the rental car.[1]

         At the time of his motion to suppress hearing, the trial court did not have the benefit of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Byrd v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1518 (2018). In Byrd, the Supreme Court held that "the mere fact that a driver in lawful possession or control of a rental car is not listed on the rental agreement will not defeat his or her otherwise reasonable expectation of privacy." Id. at 1531. In light of Byrd, we hold that the trial court erroneously concluded that Strong did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the rental car because he was not listed on the rental agreement. See id.

         Nonetheless, we affirm the denial of Strong's motion to suppress and subsequent convictions. The evidence presented at the suppression hearing reflects that law enforcement had probable cause to stop Strong and search the rental car based on the informant's tip, Strong's location, [2] and the 9-1-1 call. See State v. McIntosh, 116 So.3d 582, 584-85 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013) (finding probable cause for search existed based on evidence presented at motion to suppress hearing).

         AFFIRMED.

          EDWARDS and ...


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